MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) remains confident that Filipinos will continue to pay their tax obligations despite the growing public outcry over alleged large-scale corruption, fraud and misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the pork barrel.
“I don’t think it [pork barrel scam] would affect tax payments. The pork barrel scam happened even before this administration,” BIR commissioner Kim Henares said in an interview.
The Catholic Church and the Makati Business Club, several party list and youth groups have expressed massive uproar over the alleged diversion of P10 billion in pork barrel funds into private hands.
The funds were allegedly channeled to dummy non-government organizations purportedly for non-existent projects in exchange for hefty kickbacks.
Some groups have even called on Filipinos not to pay taxes until the pork barrel is abolished.
The pork barrel scam implicated several senators and congressmen.
Pork barrel spending is defined as the appropriation of public funds for pet projects endorsed by legislators. Lawmakers are most likely to earn political mileage for promoting the projects’ funding.
Each senator receives P200 million in PDAF every year to fund projects for their constituents while congressmen are allotted P70 million each per year. These projects could be in the form of infrastructure, education, health and social aid packages.
Henares believes that those who have been religiously paying taxes will continue to do so given the Aquino government’s intensified campaign to run after tax evaders.
Aside from this, she explained that “the obligation to pay taxes is different from our obligation to monitor that these are spent properly.”
Henares, nevertheless, urged taxpayers to continue to file their returns and pay any taxes due as usual amid calls by irate taxpayers to collectively boycott payment of taxes given the magnitude of the pork barrel scam.
“You can not correct a mistake by committing another mistake. You have no moral ascendancy to complain when you don’t follow the law,” Henares emphasized.