Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares suffered another blow from the Supreme Court (SC) when it denied her motion for reconsideration to give her a copy of the Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of justices of the tribunal, as well as those of the Court of Appeals and Court of Tax Appeals.
During the en banc, the SC moved to protect the judiciary against possible harassment from the BIR commissioner by rejecting Henares’ plea.
The BIR chief had been issued temporary restraining orders by the SC, for one, against her plan to require lawyers to submit affidavits on their service fees and, for another, against another plan for a new tax scheme for accountants, dentists and doctors.
Lawyer Theodore Te, SC Public Information Office chief, noted that the SC justices’ SALN
have been made available to students and the media as a demonstration of the court’s transparency.
In denying Henares’ motion for copies of the justices’ SALN for 2003 to 2012, the SC cited “lack of reasonable and sufficient basis” for the plea.
It ruled that the powers vested in Henares are not absolute, particularly under the Tax Code.
The SC “found it curious that while the [BIR chief] claimed that her interest was to ensure tax compliance by the members of the judiciary, she showed no interest to seek the SALN of the other members of the judiciary like those in the Sandiganbayan or the first-level courts.”
In her request to the High Court in March 2014, Henares said she needed the justices’ SALN “[for]tax investigation purposes pursuant to Section 5B of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997 in relation to the Ma’am Arlene Controversy in the judiciary.”
The SC said the reason given by the BIR chief was “dangerous” and granting the request could subject the magistrates to harassment.
“Ma’am Arlene” is allegedly a fixer in the judiciary.
After then-Chief Justice Renato Corona stepped down after his impeachment trial, the BIR immediately procured his SALN and also immediately filed tax-evasion charges against him before the Department of Justice.
Now, Corona is on trial before the Court of Tax Appeals in view of tax raps filed by the BIR.