SANTIAGO CITY, Isabela: Both big and small businessmen in the country think it is useless to report corruption against those in power for fear that it would cost them everything they have including their lives.
However, businessmen and traders in the provinces lately have bravely expressed their disgust over the alleged powerful and corrupt officials in the local revenue offices. They take their cue from President Rodrigo Duterte when he promised to clean up the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) of unscrupulous personnel.
Liz Belle Marie Yap of Cauayan City, whose family endures harassment from tax bureau employees, said they are not afraid.
She said while a lot of businessmen find it tedious and irrelevant to expose these “selfish and heartless” people in office not because of their competency but because of connections.
”We are not scared. We may not have connections and the money to bribe them to stop, but we have been through enough that we are willing to use our resources to bring justice to local entrepreneurs who [have]done nothing wrong except to trust the system,” Yap said.
The President has described the BIR as among the most corrupt in the entire bureaucracy. And to clean up the tax bureau, Duterte turned to a deeply religious old friend to lead the bureau, Caesar Dulay.
Tagged as a “Man of God” for the BIR, Dulay got marching orders from the President saying, “You can do it Bill. Just clean up the bureau.”
Dulay took over from commissioner Kim Henares, a gun enthusiast who struck fear by filing simultaneous tax evasion cases since assuming office in 2010.
Yap was referring to the tax bureau’s harassment against their family when the BIR, under Henares, filed a criminal complaint before the Department of Justice under now Senator Leila De Lima, against her uncle Joselito Yap for tax evasion and alleged failure to provide correct information in his income tax return (ITR) for 2011.
The elder Yap, owner of JAPI Enterprises in Naguilian town, was engaged in trucking and freight forwarding business. He was forced to close down his business after the RATE (run against tax evaders) case was filed against him.
In a letter to Dulay dated March 16, 2017 the elder Yap’s daughter, Dolly Yap-Cruz, said her father religiously paid his taxes and that is more than enough evidence to show he is not a criminal.
Cruz said she has documented every ordeal her family experienced with the “corrupt” BIR officials in Tuguegarao City (Cagayan) and Isabela who allegedly asked for P10 million to avoid being charged. She said the amount was for P5 million with receipts and P5 million as “SOP” (standard operating procedure) which her father refused.
She said some of these officials are still in the tax bureau such as a regional director who was fired over corrupt practices was able to make a comeback and now assigned in Metro Manila.
She said her family already lost two members and yet the people behind their tribulations are still in their posts.
“By exposing them then, we were gifted with numerous audits and RATE cases, 12 eLAs’ (Electronic Letter of Authority) and two RATE cases to be exact, which until now are awaiting resolution,” Cruz added.
The problem, she said, is not always because people refuse to pay taxes, but those who are supposed to uphold the state’s interest seemingly need some watching too.
In spite this, Cruz urged Filipino taxpayers to continue trusting the government while upholding their values and doing clean business.
LEANDER C. DOMINGO