Duterte to let Dominguez handle BIR infighting

Pia Ranada
Duterte to let Dominguez handle BIR infighting
The President prefers to let Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez handle the mess, saying he'll only step in if there is a 'compelling reason' to do so

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte would rather keep himself out of the supposed infighting among Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) officials, unless there is a “compelling reason” for him to step in.

‘Yung tax, that is the domain of Dominguez. Siya ‘yung mag-aral sa mga tao niya at pinag-aaralan niya ‘yan, ‘yung workforce niya. Then I will just– Unless, unless there is a compelling reason for me to intervene,” said Duterte on Wednesday, August 2, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the the BIR’s 113th’s anniversary.

(Tax, that is the domain of Dominguez. He will study his people, his workforce.)

The feud stems from the investigation into why the BIR accepted P65.4 million from Del Monte Philippines Incorporated (DMPI) to settle 3 years of tax discrepancies valued at P8.7 billion.

The controversy led to a plunder case against BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay and other bureau officials. 

An investigation into the case was conducted by Jesus Aranas, BIR Deputy Commissioner for legal services, but the investigation was stopped by Dulay since there was already a larger investigation being carried out by the Department of Finance, of which the BIR is an attached agency.

Dulay and Aranas are both appointees of President Duterte. Dulay was a dormmate of Duterte’s back in his law school days. Aranas helped out in Duterte’s presidential campaign and was national treasurer of his political party, PDP-Laban.

The President was asked if he intends to fire any BIR official soon, given the infighting rocking the bureau.

Duterte stressed it’s unlikely he’ll step in since he trusts Dominguez, his friend since childhood, to decide on what should be done about the mess.

“That’s a far-fetched idea. I leave Dominguez to run his [department]. In like manner, other secretaries, they have the autonomy,” he said.

During the anniversary, Duterte thanked the BIR for doing a good job so far.

“That’s why I came here to thank our workforce of the BIR because they’ve been doing a great job,” he said in the middle of the press conference.

He asked them to continue collecting more taxes so he can use the money to fund the rehabilitation of Marawi City, ground zero of clashes between Muslim extremists and government troops.

“I would need the money. That’s why I’ve been urging people to collect more…I would need billions to rehabilitate [Marawi],” he said. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.