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BIR: Scare and shame campaign to continue in spite of doctors’ outrage

Amid outrage from a doctors' group, the Bureau of Internal Revenue will stick to its scare and shame tactic and will not apologize to those offended by the agency's recent print advertisement on tax evasion.
“Alam niyo ho, 100 years na kami nagpa-positive campaign. May nangyari ba? Wala naman 'di ba? Pareho pa rin. Marami pa ring hindi nag-iissue ng resibo,” BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said in a phone interview with GMA News TV's News To Go on Tuesday.

The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) condemned the tax campaign advertisement of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) that appeared in a newspaper on Sunday, portraying doctors as tax evaders.
In a statement aired on GMA News TV's Unang Balita on Tuesday, Dr. Leo Olarte, president of Philippine Medical Association, said the BIR should apologize for the advertisement, which showed a doctor piggybacking on a school teacher, with a tally comparing their income and taxes paid.

“Ilang taon na po kami nakikipag-kampanya, nakikipag-usap, kinakausap 'yung mga tao. Kung may nangyari, konti pero hindi pa rin sapat,” Henares said. 
She believes that many Filipinos will not comply with regulation unless they are threatened or shamed.
“Alam niyo, 'yung Filipino psyche natin ay ang mga tao either natatakot o nahihiya kaya sila sumusunod,” Henares said.
She also sees no reason to apologize to the doctors tagged in the campaign as she defended the contested advertisement, saying it is directed to those who fail to pay their taxes correctly.
“Why should we apologize? The ad is only saying that those people who are not paying the right taxes should be ashamed or embarrassed to the people who are paying the right taxes,” she said.
Henares further said that the BIR is not singling out doctors since they also have other advertisements targeting online sellers and accountants.
“Tatlo 'yung ad namin. Isa lang sila dun sa character. Isa 'yung online seller, isa 'yung accountant. Alam niyo if you are not guilty, you should not feel alluded to, 'di ba? We are not talking to the people who are paying taxes correctly. We are talking to people who are not paying the right taxes,” Henares said.
Olarte said “the callous categorization of the BIR of medical professionals as tax evaders is both contemptuous and distasteful... If BIR wants to collect more taxes, this is not the way to do it.”
In a post on his Facebook account, Olarte said a good portion of doctors pay the correct taxes and “if a few individuals are falling short of what is expected of them, it cannot be used to make a sweeping statement and smear the name of the medical profession.”
Henares said Olarte was either feigning ignorance or unaware of what is happening.
“I don't know where he is all this time. Tingin ko kung mag-survey tayo at sa mga reklamo na natatanggap namin e mga doktor ang maraming reklamo na hindi nag-iissue ng resibo. So either nagmamaang-maangan sila or ewan ko kung nasaan sila,” she said.
In an interview with News To Go, Olarte said BIR should employ a more positive tactic to encourage the people to pay taxes.
“Kami ay educated, madali kausap. Just assure us na 'yung buwis namin ay to be used legally at hindi mapupunta sa bulsa ng iilang opisyal. The strategy should be positive. Dapag mag-inspire ng patriotism and love of country sa mga tao,” he said.
He reiterated that doctors are not a burden to the Filipino people.
“Nag-serve naman kami sa mga biktima ng Yolanda. Nagbigay kami ng libreng gamot, libreng serbisyo pero hindi namin 'yun ibinawas sa binayaran naming buwis,” said Olarte.
Henares said BIR is ready to talk and cooperate with different sectors regarding tax compliance but she pointed out that some people are hard-headed.
“Palagi naman po kaming nagtutulungan e. Wala naman pong problema dun. Parati naman silang nakikipag-usap sa amin. Those things we will continue but there are just some na hindi makukuha sa pakiusap e,” she said. —Amita O. Legaspi/KG, GMA News