BACOLOD CITY- The smiles never fade in this part of Visayas as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Revenue Region (RR) No. 12 - Negros Island Region officially got its 2017 tax campaign off the starting block.
The happy faces were indeed very evident as the region blazed its way through the two (2) hour program with none a bit bored.
Bacolod City is a highly-urbanized city and the capital of the province of Negros Occidental where it is geographically situated but governed administratively independent from it. It is famous for its Masskara Festival and is regarded as a relatively friendly city, as it bears the nickname "The City of Smiles." In 2008, Bacolod topped a survey by MoneySense Magazine as the "Best Place to Live in the Philippines."
Deputy Commissioner of Internal Revenue (DCIR) for the Legal Group (LG) Jesus Clint O. Aranas gave the keynote message while at the same time expressing his discomfort about speaking before a large crowd because he is not a politician. The "Son of Negros" was raised and educated in Negros (San Carlos City) where both his parents hail. He was introduced by Assistant Regional Director Lorna H. Sun-Tobias as the "The Pride of Negrenses" and the "Champion of the 10,000 strong revenuers."
DCIR Aranas started his speech with an anecdote during his high school days at La Salle Bacolod. He quickly turned jocose telling the audience that he was not the best student and that one of his classmates, Atty. Leopoldo Cioco, Jr., who was present during the kickoff, lamented the fact that DCIR Aranas was paired with him in their journalism class. Both had a good laugh when the Deputy Commissioner said that he asked his classmate Cioco to do the news and the editorial and leave the comics and ads part to him.
The very accommodating Deputy Commissioner turned serious and said that there is a need to transform the Philippine society to uplift the quality of life of Filipinos by providing the resources to driving the growth of the economy. And this can be done by paying taxes. He emphasized the need for the three (3) pillars of tax administration - 1. Taxpayers; 2. Tax Consultants/Practitioners; and 3. Tax Administrators - to work together towards economic progress.
He likened the three (3) pillars to a tripod that keeps a camera steady wherein the cooperation of each one is indispensable. If one of the three (3) pillars is remiss, corruption will rear its ugly head. He pointed to the lack of transparency as a contributing factor in a culture of corruption.
DCIR Aranas then exhorted everyone to weed out corruption and be committed to fulfilling their roles. He asked all revenuers to show transparency and integrity and be reasonable in their dealings with taxpayers. They should also exercise the power to tax, which can be a power to destroy, with caution and integrity. He ended by saying that to ensure progress in Negros, everyone must look at the kickoff not only as the start of the tax campaign but also as a renewal of collaboration in the Negros Island Region.
Earlier, Regional Director (RD) Eduardo L. Pagulayan, Jr. acknowledged all the participants and thanked them for honoring the event with their presence. He reserved his highest praise though for the "great architect of the universe" for the gift of life and asked Him to bless the people of Negros Island.
Director Pagulayan noted that the kickoff program is the start of the year-round tax campaign in which taxpayers are reminded of their patriotic duty to pay their taxes correctly as well as to update them of the latest tax laws, rules and regulations. "A well-informed taxpayer is a good taxpayer," he said.
He proceeded to announce that RR No. 12 is tasked to collect P12.07 billion this 2017, an increase of 16% over the region's actual collection in 2016 of P10.40 billion.
Director Pagulayan disclosed that his region has embarked on various programs and activities to ensure that his region will meet its collection target. He said that business processes and frontline services had been streamlined to promote ease of doing business.
"I ask every revenuer to serve with utmost integrity and efficiency. We should avoid red tape as the same breeds corruption. We should attend to their concerns so that they will leave our premises with a smile, happy and contented," he quipped.
He added, "We will also expand our tax base so that potential taxpayers can help carry the burden of paying for the expenses of government. We will run after the freeloaders and make them change to help support the government."
While appealing for help, Director Pagulayan likewise did not mince words in saying that he will intensify enforcement activities in the region and prosecute those who do not cooperate. He hoped that it would not come to a point where his region will not have any choice but to file cases under the Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) Program, suspend business operations under the Oplan Kandado Program, or issue warrants of distraint and/or levy or garnishments to collect delinquent accounts.
He issued an emphatic appeal to the Local Government Units of the region in the presence of their heads to help in the collection of taxes, especially in the withholding of taxes on government money payments, by underscoring the fact that forty percent (40%) of internal revenue taxes collected by the BIR goes to the LGUs.
The 2017 Tax Campaign Theme and Logo were unveiled during the program by DCIR Aranas, Client Support Service Assistant Commissioner of Internal Revenue (ACIR) Marilou L. del Rosario, Administrative Service ACIR Gealdina E. Reyes, Regional Director Pagulayan and Assistant Director Tobias.
ACIR Del Rosario thereafter appealed to all taxpayers to file their tax returns early and pay the taxes due thereon, if any, to avoid the "traffic" during the last day. She likewise asked the audience to avail of the tax agency's online services. She then introduced the 2017 Public Awareness Campaign of the tax agency in line with the theme "Tunay na Pagbabago, Para sa Bayan" and the current thrust of the administration to streamline frontline services through an audio-visual presentation. ACIR Del Rosario also later introduced the videotaped message of Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay who sent his regrets for not making it to the kickoff.
The revenue region handed out plaques of appreciation to its Partners, namely: Provincial Governments of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental; City Governments of Victorias, Cadiz, Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, Binalbagan, and Kabankalan; Municipal Governments of Murcia, and Don Salvador Benedicto; Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.; Integrated Bar of the Philippines; Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants; Association of Certified Public Accountants in Public Practice; and Department of Education - Negros Oriental.
The representative of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Roberto L. Montelibano gave the taxpayer's response stating that they support BIR's collection efforts as well as those of other national government agencies. In fact, they have established a section to help micro, small and even medium enterprises to comply with all government regulations believing that a right start will augur well for businesses.
The avowal of taxpayer's support was followed by the recital and signing of the Pledge of Support. Assistant Director Tobias led the toast for success.
Revenue District Officer Arnulfo A. Galapia officially concluded the kickoff program by echoing the need for change and collaboration among stakeholders. He said that the kickoff program may have closed but the same opens the door for better tax compliance.
The newly-christened revenue region is composed of four (4) Revenue District Offices (RDOs) covering the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, viz: RDO No. 76 - Victorias (Revenue District Officer Arturo A. Acabal); RDO No. 77 - Bacolod City (Revenue District Officer Arnulfo A. Galapia); RDO No. 78 - Binalbagan City (Revenue District Officer Crister Marie J. Vallejo); and RDO No. 79 - Dumaguete City (Revenue District Officer Imelda D. Cebuano).
Public Information and Education Chief Reymarie T. de la Cruz also joined the kickoff and covered the proceedings.
Actress Ana Capri got the crowd excited with her temptress antics while belting her own tunes. Capri, known for her sexy and character roles in the movies and television, is an open supporter of BIR activities. Singers Edward Benosa and Gerhard Pagunsan also had their share of the limelight singing to the audience's delight.
Source: Philippines Information Agency