Talk:Pinabacdao, Samar, Philippines

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Mario Bermejo - Pinabacdao and Calbiga Western Samar/Dismissed from service

A ranking official of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has been charged before the Office of the Ombudsman for unexplained wealth, in violation of provisions of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Department of Finance (DOF) reported yesterday that it had filed a formal complaint against Marina de Guzman, the chief revenue officer of the BIR revenue region 7 in Quezon City.

According to Finance Undersecretary Gaudencio Mendoza Jr., the case was filed through the Revenue Integrity Protection Service, an inter-agency anti-graft body formed to serve as an internal watchdog against corrupt revenue officials. Mendoza reported that based on her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth, De Guzman’s net worth increased steadily from P1.8 million in 1994 to P11.4 million in 2004.

"This is an increase of about P1 million a year when her annual salary based on her latest service record was only P256,116," Mendoza said.

"The substantial properties, frequent expensive foreign travels and significant increases in her net worth give rise to the presumption that she acquired unexplained wealth which is manifestly out of proportion (to) her lawful gross income," Mendoza said.

According to Mendoza, De Guzman also faced other possible charges under the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees as well as the Revised Penal Code. Mendoza said De Guzman could also be sued under the law allowing the state to forfeit any property found to have been unlawfully acquired by a public officer or employee.

"The penalty for these violations could range from removal from office, perpetual disqualification to hold public office and forfeiture of properties in favor of the government," Mendoza said. "It could also include imprisonment of not less than six months and up to 14 years."

Mendoza said De Guzman’s case was only one of many cases that the Revenue Integrity Protection Service was building against other government officials and employees found to be violating anti-graft laws.

Earlier, the DOF dismissed seven government officials including five revenue collectors on charges of grave misconduct, dishonesty and other offenses, officials revealed over the weekend. The dismissals came as foreign credit rating agencies said the Arroyo administration needed to do more to demonstrate that it was capable of delivering its target revenue collection, balancing the national budget and ultimately reducing public sector debt to manageable levels. Affirming an earlier decision by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Local Government Finance, the DOF said it had dismissed five BIR collectors, a BIR lawyer and a municipal treasurer.

Dismissed from service were revenue collection officers Ferdinand Magallanes (Tuguegarao, Cagayan); Jolynda Frio (Iloilo City); Mario Bermejo (Calbirga and Pinabacdao, Western Samar); Habib Wahab (Pagalungan, Maguindanao); and Dina Neri (Cebu City).

The Arroyo administration is struggling to rein in a burgeoning budget deficit that economic analysts warn could derail the government’s anti-poverty program. The government has implemented a 12-percent expanded value-added tax, which is the centerpiece of Mrs. Arroyo’s fiscal reforms intended to forestall a looming Argentina-style fiscal crisis. Mrs. Arroyo also implemented measures to reduce spending and red tape, as well as a crackdown on corruption, tax evasion and smuggling. A former Arroyo Cabinet official, movie stars, basketball players and other celebrities were among slapped with tax evasion charges in the crackdown. Rampant tax evasion, corruption, bloated state subsidies and protectionism have been blamed for the government’s fiscal woes.