LINGAYEN, Pangasinan, March 21 -- In a huge gathering of top local government unit officials, national government agency heads, BIR Management Committee members, professional and academic organization top honchos, chambers of commerce and industry presidents, tax practitioners, and top taxpayers, Commissioner of Internal Revenue Caesar R. Dulay had all the reasons to summon all his energies to rally support for the 2017 campaign of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to collect P1.829 trillion in taxes.
The aged like wine and energetic Commissioner made the appeal during the 2017 Tax Campaign kickoff of BIR Revenue Region (RR) No. 01, Calasiao, Pangasinan at the iconic Sison Auditorium in this historic provincial capitol of Pangasinan.
He said: "Change must come from us. Part of realizing this is doing our share. Thus, I humbly appeal to all you to support the goals of this administration by paying your taxes correctly and on time. Help us achieve our goal or even go beyond it so we can share more to our countrymen." "When we share more (by way of our taxes), we will help the poor and thus, reduce poverty incidence," he added.
Drawing strength from the big crowd that filled the auditorium, including its loge, he had nothing but profuse appreciation to the audience, especially the taxpayers, for responding to the invitation of the Bureau. Commissioner Dulay immediately went to work by pointing out the enormous task of the BIR to collect P1.829 trillion this 2017. He said that the Bureau collects around 80% of government tax revenues to ensure the continuous operations of the government from the payment of the salaries of government workers to the building of roads and other infrastructures.
The amiable Commissioner was happy to see where all the taxes go from the well-paved roads he took on his way to the very auditorium where he spoke. "These visible investments of the government show how well spent our taxes are," he quipped.
He reiterated that the BIR collected P1.576 trillion last year, posting an achievement level of around 97%, but many fail to see that and instead trumpet the tax agency's failure to meet its collection goal. He also asked taxpayers not to fear the BIR even in the midst of fulfilling its mandate in response to declared feelings of discomfort and uneasiness by certain sectors during tax mapping operations or when they receive letters from the Bureau.
The said declaration by the Commissioner followed the Bureau's thrust to promote ease of doing business by streamlining business and registration processes that will make compliance with tax obligations by the taxpayers easier and thus, make the tax agency a taxpayer-friendly and service-oriented institution.
The BIR is also determined to achieve its collection goal as it goes on massive recruitment of new personnel to augment its less than 10,000 current personnel strength that was responsible in collecting close to P1.6 trillion last year. In increasing its less than 50% manpower, the BIR sees a better and more improved collection performance.
The BIR has already filed a bill in Congress to exempt its revenue personnel from the coverage of the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) in its desire to attract more professionals to its fold through a more competitive pay scale especially at the entry-level positions. To date, the proposed bill has found sponsors from both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
To effect more changes, the BIR is promoting an open door policy not only to promote transparency but also to listen to proposals to amend existing revenue regulations that affect taxpayers, chambers of commerce and industry, and tax practitioners.
Commissioner Dulay again appealed to all taxpayers, "Please pay your taxes for the country so we can have more funds to share to our less fortunate countrymen. Do not be a part of the cycle of corruption. Walang kurap kung walang nagungurap! Corruption must stop, pay your taxes correctly. 'Malasakit at Tunay na Pagbabago Para sa Bayan,' this is the call for today."
Assistant Regional Director Fely C. Simon aptly introduced the Commissioner.
RR No. 01 - Calasiao Regional Director Teresita M. Dizon accepted the call for change and the challenge to raise more funds for the government. She said, "Mga minamahal naming taxpayers ng RR1, narito po sa inyong harapan ang mga katuwang nating magtataguyod ng isang maunlad na rehiyon at bayan. Napakalaki po ng nakaatang na tax collection sa Rehiyon Uno at nakahanda na po kaming harapin ang hamon (na ito). Sana po ay nakahanda na rin kayo. Ang tunay na pagbabago ay sagutin mo, sagutin ko, sagutin nating lahat. Magtulungan po tayong lahat para sa isang maunlad na Rehiyon Uno, isang maunlad na bayang Pilipinas."
Early on, she welcomed the participants that crowded the 1927 built neo-classical auditorium. She then proceeded to lay down the revenue region's accomplishments, plans and programs for 2017.
RR No. 01 - Calasiao, Pangasinan collected P11.93 billion in 2016. For February 2017, the region recorded a 16% growth rate over last year's collection for the same month by collectingP2.1 billion.
Of the P1.829 trillion goal of the entire BIR, about P16 billion is estimated to be assigned to the region for 2017, a 30% increase over its 2016 actual collection.
Regional Director Dizon likewise discussed the revenue region's programs in its drive to attain its collection goal - Filing Compliance Monitoring Program and Payment Compliance Monitoring Program.
Among the programs and initiatives discussed to be undertaken by the revenue region this 2017 are the Taxpayer Account Management Program (TAMP), Monitoring of NGAs, GOCCs, and LGUs Withholding Tax Compliance, Non-VAT to VAT Payments, RATE Program, Oplan Kandado Program, Profiling and Benchmarking, Updating of Zonal Values, Risk-Based Audit, Broadening the tax base, and Arrears Management Program.
She cited as examples the percentage of filers and the amount of taxes uncollected by the region in the past. For TAMP taxpayers, only 2,421 or 55% filed their returns out of 4,343. For Non-TAMP taxpayers, a mere 7,500 out of the 426,000, or a measly 1.76%, filed their tax returns. On the payment side, there was around P100 million in tax deficiencies in 2015 that ballooned to P122 million in 2016. The bulk of the estimated tax deficiencies came from those who filed electronically (eFiled) but without payment, eFiled and paid but with deficiency taxes, eFiled and manual payment penalties, and non-filers' penalties.
Regional Director Dizon said that this is the time to band together for nation-building to uplift the life of every Filipino and accept the challenge for real change is the responsibility of everybody.
RR No. 01 - Calasiao, Pangasinan is composed of four (4) provinces (Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan). It has jurisdiction over six (6) Revenue District Offices (RDO), namely: RDO No. 01 - Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; RDO No. 02 - Bantay, Ilocos Sur; RDO No. 03 - San Fernando, La Union; RDO No. 04 - Calasiao, West Pangasinan; RDO No. 05 - Alaminos, West Pangasinan; and RDO No. 6 - Urdaneta City, East Pangasinan. The said RDOs are headed by Revenue District Officers Jose Edimar P. Jaen, Aldo B. Esmena, Ernesto I. Mangabat, Merlyn DV. Vicente, Thelma D. Mangio, and Maria Isabel B. Utit, respectively.
The host and Governor of Pangasinan Amado I. Espino III also delivered a message to the kickoff crowd. Speaking interspersedly in his native dialects (Ilokano and Pangasinan) and Filipino, the Governor told the audience that the BIR and the local government units (LGUs) are partners in community development. The BIR collects the taxes that go back to the LGUs by way of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) while the LGUs run the government and see to it that the IRA they received are properly spent. He reaffirmed his provincial government's commitment to community development.
Client Support Service Assistant Commissioner of Internal Revenue (ACIR) Marilou L. Del Rosario 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, whether electronically or manually. She 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.
Dagupan Electric Corporation (DECORP) President Isabelita L. Llames through her representative Dominador Liwag responded in behalf of the taxpayers. She emphasized honesty in all of DECORP's dealings saying that the survival and growth of any society are anchored on certain values. She looked at the payment of taxes not only as a legal but also as a moral obligation. "If everyone is to reap the benefits, then everyone must share the burden. We should continue to support according to our respective abilities the (government's) proposition that taxes are needed to build an environment conducive to business and to ensure a safe and enjoyable life. There is thus no reason not to support the government," she quipped. She ended by praising the taxpayers who she said are the real heroes in nation-building.
Mayor Belen T. Fernandez of Dagupan City also addressed the audience by declaring her city's solidarity with the BIR in the latter's tax drive and its bid to meet its collection goal. She highlighted the need for information sharing between the two as imperative to governance. She said that the BIR needs to communicate the importance of taxes and the benefits therefrom to the community. "With the right and proper information, there will be improved revenue collection," she declared.
Revenue District Officer Merlyn DV. Vicente led the general recital of the Pledge of Commitment that was followed with the affixture of signatures on the pledge panel led by the local government unit heads, taxpayers, and revenue officials, among others.
Among those who graced the kickoff program were Deputy Commissioners Celia C. King and Lanee Cui-David, Assistant Commissioners Ma. Rosario Charo E. Curiba, Margaret Mary C. Lauron, Gealdina E. Reyes, Lucita P. Oandasan, and Marissa O. Cabreros, Revenue Data Center - Luzon 1, Calasiao Head Soliman C. Dabocol, Head Revenue Executive Assistant Jose Ric A. Cabrera, Internal Investigation Division Chief Edmond P. Lladoc, and Public Information and Education Division Chief Reymarie T. de la Cruz, who coordinated Commissioner Dulay's media activities. Among the LGU officials in attendance were Sison, Pangasinan Mayor Danilo C. Uy, Malasiqui, Pangasinan Mayor Noel Anthony Geslani, and Labarador, Pangasinan Vice-Mayor Art I. Arenas.
Calafellas entertained the audience and also sang the opening prayer and Freddie Aguilar's "Para sa Tunay na Pagbabago." The Pangasinan Provincial Chorale led by Joy T. Nilo sang the Philippine National Anthem and the Pangasinan Hymn, including Ilokano and Pangasinan folk songs during the intermission. Revenuers Donnavilla U. Gutay and Janice Joyce C. Rafales sang and danced the region's tax campaign jingle entitled "Tunay na Pagbabago: Sagot Mo, Sagot Ko."
Source: Philippines Information Agency