Senators have praised the ongoing lifestyle checks conducted by the Department of Finance (DOF) on all government personnel, particularly in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Senator Grace Poe on Monday said that the DOF’s initiative to conduct lifestyle checks should be the easier way to pin down the “Al Capones” at the BOC and the BIR, referring to an American gangster who attained fame during the Prohibition era.
“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,” Poe said, adding that the move is a surefire way of forfeiting the money these people have siphoned, stemming corruption at the agencies where they work and ensuring that revenue collected by these agencies go to government coffers.
Poe admitted 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,” she said.
The senator cited Ruben Taguba, the father of the Customs fixer Mark Taguba, who allegedly received multi-million properties while working at the BOC as a mere Customs police. She also pointed out a case of a Customs clerk whose earning is only P9,000 a month, but was able to purchase a luxury car.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chairman of the committee on financial institutions, also expressed his full support to the DOF’s move, saying that such lifestyle check should be done regularly to revenue-collecting agencies as this could help in the government’s anti-corruption drive.
On the other hand, the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means committee Senator Sonny Angara said lifestyle checks on revenue agencies were proper, mentioning the “tara” system that was exposed recently in the Senate.
Angara said that it is important that they be done fairly to ensure honesty in government service.
“Those with assets or lifestyles not contained in their (statements of assets, liabilities and net worth) should be prosecuted under the laws on graft and forfeiture,” Angara said, adding that no less than the constitution calls on public servants to lead simple and modest lives.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, for his part, said that he supports the department’s initiative, citing the nature of its officials and employees’ work as stewards of the government’s wealth made them prone to temptations of corruption.
“Therefore, it is essential for DOF personnel to be completely transparent about their personal finances,” Gatchalian said.
The DOF is probing officials and employees under the department and its attached agencies after finding out that some personnel are not declaring some properties and assets in their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs).