MANILA, Philippines — BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. on Friday maintained the agency’s need for confidential funds of P10 million, saying it would be used to go against “big tax evaders” and combat “illicit trades ”.

“We need this because as you saw in the past – when I was appointed – that we have many operations against illicit trade, we have had operations against large unions[s] involved in phantom revenues and we do a lot of surveillance,” said Lumagui, Friday night, during debates on the Senate floor over the agency’s 2024 budget.

“It’s really helpful for us to actually catch these big fish, so to speak. We have been attacking big tax evaders,” Lumagui added in response to a question from Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III about why the agency is still pushing for the allocation of secret funds.

In his interpellation, Pimentel highlighted that the BIR already has a Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) Program.

“There are really no special funds allocated for the RATE Program,” Lumagui responded.

Pimentel later urged Lumagui to analyze the financing request.

“In your Revenue Administration Program, you already have P277.8M that you can use for tax fraud investigations and intelligence operations. It’s a large amount. Just take a look,” said Pimentel.

The lawmaker said the BIR’s P10 million confidential fund request is “reasonable” but said the question remains: “Should you really be entitled to it?”


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