All of a sudden, two lynchpin agencies in this administration—the BIR and the BOC—came under heavy fire from House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his choirboys.
Again, who said Alvarez was the staunchest political ally of the motorbiking Duterte Harley?
Vigorous and relentless attacks from the House concentrated on the two heads of the agencies: BIR head Caesar Dulay and BOC head Nicanor Faeldon.
It seemed that, using tales of corruption in both bureaus, Alvarez and his backup singers wanted to chop off their heads, thus calling for hearings left and right on the supposed scandals besetting them.
It just so happened that Dulay and Faeldon were among the rare personal handpicks of Duterte Harley, since he considered both agencies the most corrupt throughout the history of the universe.
In fact, Duterte Harley did not shy away from wholesale dismissal of officers and staff in the two agencies.
Yet, despite the incessant call for the ouster of Dulay and Faeldon, Duterte Harley kept them, as if telling Alvarez and his boys, well, “take that!”
Perhaps for good reason! This year alone, this administration assigned to the BIR and the BOC some dream collection targets, about P2.3 trillion in total, the highest ever combined targets of the revenue agencies. The targets would also have to expand considerably in the next four years, or until the end of Duterte Harley’s term, to help the administration cover its P8-trillion “build, build, build” infrastructure program.
Of course the attacks against the BOC focused on the foiled smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of the illegal drug “shabu.”
Reports said the shipment breezed through the BOC, using its no-questions-asked “green” lane, which showed that the systematized corruption in the bureau was still very much alive.
In the House “investigation in aid of legislation,” Alvarez and his boys wanted to skin Faeldon alive, including his executive assistant, lawyer Mary Therese Anderson, who hit the headlines for calling Alvarez an “imbecile.”
Lost in the congressional maelstrom, unfortunately, was the big problem of “consignee for hire” in the BOC, which smugglers use to hide behind fake importers enjoying BOC accreditations.
Why not just make “consignee for hire” a crime!
As for the BIR, the beef of Alvarez and his boys seemed to be the P29-billion tax case of multinational food giant Del Monte.
In effect, they accused the BIR chief of corruption by letting Del Monte off the hook.
By the way, the P29-billion figure was bizarre, incredible and ridiculous. It covered three years from 2011 to 2013, during which the company’s profit was less than P50 billion. With a tax liability of P29 billion, its tax rate would have been more than 60 percent. The P29-billion figure was simply idiotic.
Perhaps realizing that they already sounded funny, Alvarez and his boys recently changed their figure to P8.7 billion. You know—big discount!
Anyway, the Del Monte brouhaha stemmed from the ongoing turf war between Dulay and his deputy Jesus Clint Aranas, who was said to be the nominee of Alvarez.
In June last year, before Duterte could name Dulay as BIR commissioner, word went around that Aranas had the BIR position in the bag, which of course slipped out.
The Del Monte issue actually stemmed from a case filed before the Ombudsman by somebody who made the filing of cases a personal hobby.
From out of the blue, Aranas embezzled the case and issued a “show cause order” to BIR personnel in the case, perhaps including Dulay, who insisted that tax cases were handled by specific units in the bureau, and not by the commissioner directly.
Subsequently Alvarez adopted the case as his personal crusade, religiously attending the House events that had anything to do with Del Monte.
For instance, in one “briefing” recently, Alvarez insisted that Congress should create a law to require that all tax cases must go up to the BIR head directly.
Since the BIR usually handled thousands of tax cases, the BIR head would do nothing all day but get involved in them—was that it?
For that matter, why not all the way up to the President!
In her Facebook personal posting, Anderson might have had a point after all.
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