DOJ identifies first 5 gov’t agencies to undergo corruption probe

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 28, 2020   •   234

Five government agencies will face investigation for alleged corruption, according to Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

The Anti-Corruption Task Force will look into the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the Land Registration Authority (LRA), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Based on the memorandum signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, the Justice Department will have the authority to decide which agencies will be prioritized for investigation.

“As stated in the Memorandum, the President granted the DOJ the authority to decide which allegations of corruption to investigate, taking into consideration the gravity thereof and the impact on the delivery of government services,” the DOJ said in a statement.

Guevarra said that among their goals is to prosecute those who will be found involved in corrupt practices.

“Our output is not just recommendatory. We shall file cases directly with the Office of the Ombudsman,” he added.

Another goal of the task force is the installation of anti-corruption mechanisms in government agencies to “promote values of integrity and civic-mindedness.” The first meeting of the Anti-Corruption task force will be on October 30.

Meanwhile, the DOJ also said that members of Task Force PhilHealth will also form the core group of the Anti-Corruption Task Force.

The core group includes the DOJ, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP), National Prosecution Service (NPS), and the Anti-Money laundering Council (AMLC).

“The Task Force shall also invite the Commission on Audit (COA), the Civil Service Commission (CSC), and the Office of the Ombudsman to work together with the Task Force, with due consideration for their independence as constitutional bodies,” the Justice Department said in a statement. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

BIR collects over P500-M in taxes from padlocked establishments – DOF

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has collected a total of P547.9 million in taxes from January to September this year from 178 commercial establishments that were padlocked earlier for failing to either register or pay the correct amount of taxes, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Wednesday.

In a statement, the DOF said BIR’s operations conducted against the padlocked establishments were pursuant to Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) No. 3-2009, otherwise known as the “Oplan Kandado Program.”

In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the BIR said it has also filed 14 cases before the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) in a bid to collect some P338 million in tax liabilities from various respondents.

Meanwhile, 72 complaints involving an estimated P3.4 billion in tax liabilities that the bureau has filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) are now under preliminary investigation, BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa said in his report.

Last year, the BIR collected a total of P1.92 billion under its Oplan Kandado program as a result of the temporary closure of 743 establishments for various violations of the National Internal Revenue Code.

BIR’s performance under the Oplan Kandado program in 2019 was a 218.88-percent improvement over its 233 closures of establishments reported in 2018 and a 140.76-percent increase in collections amounting to P799.47 million during that year.

Also in 2019, the BIR filed a total of 347 complaints involving tax liabilities estimated to be worth P24.02 billion combined before either the DOJ or CTA as part of the Duterte administration’s all-out campaign against tax evaders.

Under its Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program, 309 cases for preliminary investigation were filed by the bureau before the DOJ last year for tax liabilities of various individuals and corporations estimated at P19.06 billion combined.

The DOF said this was a marked improvement of 56.85 percent over the 197 cases filed by the BIR in 2018 involving some P15 billion-worth of tax liabilities.

In the CTA, the bureau has filed 38 cases for tax liabilities worth P4.94 billion combined, or more than triple the 12 cases filed before the tax appeals court in 2018.

The cases filed before the CTA involving close to P5 billion in tax liabilities represent a 480.67 percent increase over the estimated P851.57 million in taxes that the BIR had hoped to collect in 2018 through litigation, the DOF said.

Finance chief orders BIR, BOC to probe coops used for rice imports

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs to assist in the investigation being conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) into the reported use of cooperatives by private traders as dummies for rice imports.

“There’s this question now as to why traders are using coops to import rice …. Let’s look into that because they might be using the tax advantage on rice imports,” Dominguez told BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay and BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero during a recent executive committee meeting.

Dominguez issued the directive following the DA’s decision to temporarily halt the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSIC) to farmers’ cooperatives and irrigators’ associations for commercial purposes.

Through Administrative Order No. 34 issued in October, the DA suspended the SPSICs to coops and irrigators’ associations, effectively barring them from importing rice, after the DA received reports that these organizations have resorted to rice imports rather than carry out their purpose of procuring local rice from farmers.

Both the DOF and DA have also received reports that the SPSICs issued to cooperatives have been misused by traders to avoid legal responsibilities and evade the payment of the correct amount of import taxes.

Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko also noted that while cooperatives are not exempted from paying duties for importing rice, they can be exempted from paying the income tax on these imports if they are registered with the BIR as tax-exempt entities.

Through the AO, the DA directed the Bureau of Plant Industry to probe and to consult with affected stakeholders “to come up with new policies and rules to avoid circumvention of the laws” and to protect the farmers and cooperatives form exploitation.

Guevarra clarifies task force probe on anomalous gov’t transactions

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 24, 2020

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra has clarified that the anti-corruption task force is aimed at probing anomalous activities in government offices and not on individuals.

This was after President Rodrigo Duterte announced he has a list of names of lawmakers allegedly involved in the corruption in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“So, Mr. President, it’s not really the person who is being investigated but a particular transaction na maaari pong kasama o may involvement itong (which might be involved) any member of the government which is outside of the executive department,” he said.

He also clarified that the Task Force Against Corruption does not have the said list of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).

However, Guevarra said the task force will conduct its own investigation once the Office of the Ombudsman has filed a case against individuals possibly involved in corruption.

Guevarra also said it will be up to the Ombudsman if they plan to disclose the names of lawmakers possibly involved in an anomaly.

Meanwhile, according to the PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica, they do not cover investigation on Congressmen but based on the investigation they are conducting on the DPWH, there are lawmakers linked to the alleged anomalies in the department.

“Just to clarify, we are not conducting any investigation against members of Congress because our jurisdiction only covers presidential appointees. But we will submit the report for proper investigation.  It was during the course of the investigation that some congressmen were implicated. Not all, but some,” he said in a statement. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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