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DOJ chief De Lima, 5 BIR execs face plunder raps

December 17, 2010 3:30pm

A private citizen claiming to be an anti-graft advocate filed with the Office of the Ombudsman on Friday a plunder complaint against Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) head Kim Jacinto-Henares, and four other BIR officials.

The complainant, Danilo Lihaylihay, said De Lima and the BIR officials "maliciously" connived with one another when the Justice secretary revoked an earlier ruling that grants a BIR informer a 25-percent reward for information about tax evasion cases.

Lihaylihay is the same complainant in the tax evasion complaint against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the sale of the old Iloilo airport in 2007.

Lihaylihay is claiming that he deserves a P1.13-billion reward for supposedly providing the BIR with information about tax evaders.

Sought for comment, De Lima told GMANews.TV in a text message: "That's plunder? Evidently a nuisance suit!"

Meanwhile, Henares criticized Lihaylihay and insisted that the National Internal Revenue Code limits the amount of rewards to P1 million or 10-percent of the amount of taxes recovered, whichever is lower.

"I cannot understand how we are guilty of plunder when we're saving government money. We're just implementing the law which says that you cannot give anyone a reward of more than P1 million or 10-percent [of revenues recovered], whichever is lower," Henares said in a phone interview with GMANews.TV.

"If we agree to give him [the P1.13-billion reward] that's when we are guilty of plunder," she added.

Aside from De Lima and Henares those named on the charge sheet were:
  • BIR deputy commissioner Estella Sales;
  • assistant commissioner Marissa Cabreros;
  • law division head VC Cadangen, and
  • law division lawyer Joan P. Quijano.

    In his complaint, Lihaylihay alleged that:

    "Instead of immediately disbursing/paying herein complainant of his P1.130 billion informer's reward monies consistent with existing laws, rules, and regulations as directedby the Office of the President, respondent BIR officials maliciously refused to pay thereof and then illegally connived with respondent Sec. of Justice Leila de Lima."

    The connivance allegedly prompted the DOJ to publish a legal opinion revoking a 2006 department ruling of former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.

    Lihaylihay claimed he was "shortchanged" and "robbed of his vested 25 percent informer's reward" when he informed the bureau about an alleged tax evasion involving the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Bank of America.

    "I am hereby criminally accusing public respondents, through conspiracy and connivance.... for conversion, misappropriation, for technical malversation of public trust funds, by the issuance of DOJ Opinion NO. 48, Series of 2010, intended to illegally benefit the state and by taking undue advantage of their official positions, authority, connections, or influence, to unjustly enrish themselves/state at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of herein tax informer," Lihaylihay said. – VVP, GMANews.TV
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