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Duterte: Up to Finance chief to decide BIR controversy

MANILA-- President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he was leaving it up to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to decide on the fates of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) officials for the agency's alleged failure to collect billions in tax liabilities from a multinational food and beverage firm.

In the field of tax, that is the domain of Dominguez. Siya 'yung mag-aral sa mga tao niya at pinag-aaralan niya 'yan, 'yung workforce niya unless there is a compelling reason for me to intervene, Duterte told reporters at the celebration of the 113th founding anniversary of the BIR in answer to questions if he would be removing agency officials from office.

That's a far-fetched idea. I leave Dominguez to run his (department) In like manner, other secretaries, they have the autonomy, he said.

BIR officials, led by Commissioner Caesar Dulay, are being grilled at the House of Representatives as to why the BIR reduced the tax liabilities of Del Monte Philippines Inc. (DMPI) from PHP 8.7 billion to only PHP 65 million for the period covering 2011 to 2013.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who initiated the probe, as well as other House leaders, are asking the BIR to explain the tax settlement following the supposed plunder complaint filed by Danilo Lihayhay before the Office of the Ombudsman against Dulay and 17 other agency officials and personnel in connection with the alleged tax reduction of DMPI. De Monte insisted that it paid the correct taxes and assured that it would fully cooperate with any investigation.

Meanwhile, Dulay said that he had no involvement in the DMPI tax cases as these did not require any action on his part.

In fact, he said that he had immediately ordered a review of the case upon hearing of the tax reduction accusations and had even personally recommended that the matter be investigated or acted upon by the Department of Finance after finding out that he was included in the plunder complaint.

In the meantime, President Duterte is taking up the cudgels for the embattled BIR chief.

In fairness to Congress, they're conducting an investigation. But let me also advise everybody that if it's just a question of mathematical computation or the equation used, then there is really nothing to it, the President said.

As long as there is no corruption, if it's just a matter of computation, eh 'di i-recompute ninyo ulit. Whose equation do you want to use? Dominguez will decide on it, Duterte said.

He likewise pointed out that he knows Dulay from when they were still students and vouched for his character.

In his speech earlier during the program, the President said that even when they were still students, they used to measure their character from one to the other.

Besides Dulay and Dominguez, other members of the Cabinet who were Duterte's classmates in various school levels include Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

Kaya kami nagsama nang matagal, it's because there were times sa pagsama namin na makikita mo 'yung karakter ng tao. So nagkakilala kami, became lawyers and when I won kinuha ko sila kasi makatulong, he said.

The President however said that he will wait for the result of the congressional probe.

Wala pang result ng investigation. So due process. I said, if there is corruption, wala na tayong magawa. But if it's just a matter of computation, kagaya dito ganon, I would not he said.

I know the guy. Sinabi ko, estudyante pa kami. They are not up to it. Otherwise, I would not have invited them to the Cabinet, Duterte said.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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