Saying that lifestyle checks should be the easier way to pin down the ‘Al Capones’ at the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Senator Grace Poe on Monday said it’s time to put an end to the gall and hubris of these people who had it too good for way too long under the pretext of serving the people.
“This is a sure-fire way of forfeiting the money these people have siphoned, stem corruption at the agencies they work, and ensure that revenue collected by these agencies go to government coffers,” she said.
She acknowledged that corruption has plagued these two revenue-generating agencies for the longest time.
“We have seen customs employees with meager salaries acquire properties with values way beyond what they supposedly can afford,” said Poe.
For example, he said Ruben Taguba, the father of Mark Taguba, the whistleblower in the P6-billion shabu heist pay-off, allegedly acquired multi-million properties while working at the BoC as a mere customs police.
“Previously, a customs clerk earning only P9,000 a month was able to buy a Porsche,” she said, referring to a janitor at the BoC who bought the high-end vehicle.
Poe said she has always advocated for less human interaction in such agencies, especially since most transactions can be done online or by using a computer interface or program.
She said this will result in transparency and less opportunities for corrupt officials to earn illegally.
Senator Chiz Escudero also aired his support to the lifestyle checks on BoC and BIR officials.
He said it should be done regularly to revenue-collecting agencies. He believes this could help in the government’s anti-corruption drive.
Sen. Sonny Angara said lifestyle checks on revenue agencies is proper given the expose regarding huge amounts of payoffs or ‘tara’ exposed recently in the Senate.
He said it is important that they be done fairly and to ensure honesty in government service.
“Those with assets or lifestyles not contained in their SALNS should be prosecuted under the laws on graft and forfeiture. No less than the constitution calls on public servants to lead simple and modest lives.”
Sen. Win Gatchalian also supports the initiative of the Department of Finance to conduct lifestyle checks on its officials and employees, especially revenue officers.
He said the nature of their work, as stewards of the government’s wealth, makes them prone to temptations of corruption.
“Therefore, it is essential for DOF personnel to be completely transparent about their personal finances.”
The finance delartment wants to find out the supposed unexplained wealth of its employees.
“Our problem is, the higher the rank, the smarter they get in hiding assets. We just have to outthink them,” said Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin.
The DOF is conducting lifestyle checks on its employees and on those working at its attached agencies after finding out that some workers own expensive condominium units and cars despite their meager salaries.