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Jun Ramirez

Ombudsman gets P7-M UK aid to continue anti-graft drive

The British government has extended anew its financial aid to the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) to support the latter's anti-corruption drive to help spur the economic and social development of the country. British Ambassador to Manila Asif Ahmad and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) extending the assistance of Great Britain in the training OMB prosecutors in the gathering of evidence and prosecution of grafters in the government service. For this year, Ahmad said some P6.7 million in grant has been set aside for the OMB in a program dubbed as "Cultivating Accountability Toward National Growth and Empowerment Project." The British envoy said the project has been going on since 2011 and renewed every year to promote the rule of law and democracy, adding "no one is …

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BIR steps up benchmark audit to cut P200-B annual losses

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has intensified benchmarking audit operations nationwide  to address the nagging low tax effort ratio causing  government to lose more than P200 billion annually. BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay and other top revenue officials briefed business operators and their accountants on the program during a road show presentation in Malate, Manila. The audit program basically involves the group of businesses belonging to the same industry, say real estate, restaurant and hardware establishments, matching their incomes and level of tax compliance. Taxpayers who are paying taxes below the industry benchmarks are considered "high risks" and will be asked to explain their poor tax compliance. The notice will give concerned taxpayers a chance to rebut the BIR findings and the opportunity to rectify errors and improve tax compliance. Revenue Deputy Commissioner for …

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Japanese wanted for fraud arrested

Bureau of Immigration (BI) agents arrested on Friday a Japanese man wanted by authorities in Tokyo for involvement in a multi-million dollar electronic fraud scam. Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said Keiji Yuasa, 63, was arrested in Binangonan, Rizal by a team from the bureau's fugitive search unit (FSU). Morente said he issued a warrant of deportation for Yuasa after the bureau’s board of commissioners ordered his summary deportation last October 6 for being an undocumented and undesirable alien. The Japanese was detained at the BI detention center in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City, while awaiting deportation. Morente said that Yuasa's passport was canceled by the Japanese government in November last year. "A team of Japanese policemen will be in Manila to fetch and escort him (Yuasa) to Tokyo where he will stand trial for his …

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Ombudsman announces conviction of four town mayors

The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) has secured the conviction of four town mayors before the Sandiganbayan, who are accused of corruption and other criminal offenses. OMB prosecutors identified the convicts as Apollo Ferraren of San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro; Eric Etienza of Calauag, Quezon; Victorino Rodillas of Majayjay, Laguna and Floro Taneda of Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur. Ferraren was found guilty of corruption by the anti-graft court and sentenced him up to 10 years in jail for allowing a businessman to use the town's heavy equipment without permit and rental fees. Etienza was convicted of falsification and meted imprisonment up to eight years for falsely certifying the employment of a property custodian with a monthly salary of P5,000. On the other hand, Rodillas was found guilty of failure to account cash advances amounting P100,000, …

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OMB investigates illegal dumpsites in Albay

The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) has questioned several local officials of Albay province for allowing and maintaining open illegal dumpsites. Officials from the towns of Camalig, Guinobatan, Tiwi, Daraga, Polangui and Tabaco City attended the two-day clarificatory hearings held early this week in Legazpi City. The fact-finding investigation conducted by the Environmental Ombudsman (EO) was part of a national campaign to ensure compliance with Republic Act No. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000). It will be recalled that last May 2016, the OT team successfully caused the closure of three open dumpsites in the municipalities of Hindang and Bato in Leyte, and the municipality of Catarman in the Northern Samar.

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Ombudsman raps ex-Cotabato congressman for PDAF misuse

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has filed graft and corruption charges against former North Cotabato Congressman, now Vice-Governor Gregorio Ipong for alleged anomalous disbursement of his 2007 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Ipong and four others are facing trial before the Sandiganbayan for one count each of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and malversation of public funds. Morales also ordered Ipong’s dismissal from the service and permanent disqualification from holding public office in the future after he was found administratively liable of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. Ombudsman investigators found that in 2007, the Department of Budget and Management released P10 million as part of the lawmaker’s PDAF to fund livelihood projects in the second district of North Cotabato. Documents showed that Ipong indorsed and …

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Tax experts say corruption in BIR embedded in Tax Code

Tax experts said yesterday that graft and corruption in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) are embedded in the Tax Code and urged Congress to scrap and change ambiguous provisions in the lax laws. They also warned that unless unclear rules are discarded, the fight of President Duterte against corruption in the bureau will not be fully achieved. The experts noted that there are ambiguous provisions in the tax laws which grant tax examiners wide discretion in allowing or disallowing tax deduction. Lawyer Frederick Capitan, former chief of the BIR’s tax fraud division, cited the impractical rule requiring the presentation of invoice or receipt with the Tax Identification Number (TIN) of the value-added taxpayer (VAT) for the issuance of tax credit or refund. In some cases, tax examiners would accept invoices even without the …

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LRTA loses two tax cases

The Court of Tax Appeals has rejected the two separate petitions of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) to stop the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) from collecting some P8.6 million in back taxes, saying it has no authority to do so. In its first resolution, the court’s First Division stated it cannot interfere with the tax collection function of the BIR as it concerned non-remittance of P5.1 million in expanded withholding tax (EWT) arising from non-withholding of income payments to the Manila Electric Company as LRTA. The government-owned rail agency supervises and maintains the operations of the elevated railway system in Metro Manila. LRTA said the assessment should be compromised or cancelled because it was “unjust or excessive.” The court, however, said the BIR commissioner has the sole authority or discretion to abate …

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BIR, DTI simplify business registration

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have come up with a joint simple procedure in the registration of business enterprises like sole proprietor and partnership. BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay and DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said the program is in line with President Duterte’s instruction to all government offices to simplify documentary requirements and procedure sought by the transacting public. Under the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed by the two officials,  the BIR will issue Tax Identification Number (TIN) through the electronic registration (eReg) system linked to the Philippine Business Registry (PBR) under the DTI. The BIR will process the registration of the new business and issue the corresponding Certificate of Registration (COR) and other permits relative to secondary registration after completing the documentary requirements. The BIR …

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Tax Court denies PAL tax refund claim

The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) has rejected the petition of Philippine Airlines (PAL) to get back almost P7 million in excise tax payment for its failure to distinguish low price from reasonable price arising from importation of alcohol and tobacco products in 2008. In a 15-page resolution, the court en banc affirmed the earlier decision of its Third Division that the airliner did not present sufficient evidence to warrant a refund by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). PAL argued that under its charter (PD 9334) it is exempted from excise tax to import wines, liquors and cigarettes use in its international flights if they are not "locally available in reasonable quantity. quality and price." It said even the BIR had admitted that the importation of the commissary supplies is much cheaper …

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