BIR probes 'corrupt' generals

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2011 01:28 PM | Updated as of Feb 10 2011 10:19 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Thursday said it is investigating personalities named in congressional inquiries on alleged corruption in the military.

Speaking to reporters at the Department of Justice (DOJ), BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said the BIR "is an avid and interested reader and viewer of any investigation," and takes appropriate actions without anybody's prodding.

"Every time there's this type of controversy, the BIR is always at the heels of it," Henares said.

"We do that even without people telling us to do it, and when we are investigating, we do that in confidence, without telling people we are investigating. The only time people will know is when we already file the charges," Henares added.

Both the lower and upper chambers of Congress are probing the alleged pocketing of military funds by ranking Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officials including millions in send-off money by chiefs of staff upon their retirement.

Henares said even these alleged send-off money or "pabaon" should be declared to the BIR so that the corresponding taxes are paid.

Henares, however, said individuals engaged in illegal activities are not expected to make such declarations to government.

"The thing there, in all kinds of income, you should pay taxes. That's the very idealistic way of seeing things. But if you're engaged in an illegal activity, you don't report it," Henares said.

"When you report to BIR, we do not ask where you got it. As far as the bureau is concerned, we do not ask questions where it came from. The only time we ask is when you show your expense, that's when we ask you to itemize your expense," Henares added.

The BIR chief said they will make use of transcripts of the congressional hearings and other pertinent documents obtained by Congress in its own investigation.

"What we're doing when we investigate, we get all the transcripts and affidavits and we start from there," Henares said.

Congressional inquiries have led to the filing of cases against certain personalities including former AFP comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia and film and television producer-director, Carlo J. Caparas.

The BIR filed tax evasion cases against Garcia and Caparas at the DOJ.

“We're following the same 'modus operandi.' We go and investigate and if there’s any proof, we file the charges," Henares said.