DoF to step up lifestyle check

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DoF main office
The DoF main office at Roxas Boulevard -- BW FILE PHOTO

By Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan

THE ANTI-CORRUPTION arm of the Department of Finance (DoF) is targeting lifestyle checks on at least 70 more employees in the main office and its attached agencies this year, after discharging high-ranking officials earlier this year.

“We are continuously adding persons of interest… but every month we make sure that we add at least 10 names into that list. So we started actively initiating investigations last January, so we are targeting around 70 plus by the end of the year,” said Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) Executive Director Ray Gilberto J. Espinosa.

RIPS investigates allegations of corruption in bureaus under the Department of Finance (DoF), such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Customs (BoC), Bureau of Local Government Finance, and Bureau of Treasury, among others.

The investigation covers officials and employees not declaring accurate Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs).

“For instance, there is one that we are investigating — in 1996 his annual salary was P80,000, he was able to buy a lot worth P40,000. Then in 1997, he (reported that his) annual salary was P126,000, he was able to buy a lot for P150,000. His annual salary is not even enough to pay for that lot,” said Finance Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin, who handles RIPS.

Cases are then forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman or the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

In October, the DoF ordered the dismissal from public service of three BoC officials and two from the BIR, and also ordered the suspension of nine Customs employees, two BIR taxmen, and one city treasurer, following orders from the Ombudsman.

Eight BoC collectors and a BIR revenue officer also face criminal charges over perjury and falsification, as well as SALN violations.

May mga nadidismiss naman kami (We have dismissed some people), but I couldn’t say that we are getting all the dismissals that we want,” said Mr. Espinosa.

Last year, the DoF took similar punitive actions against 14 erring officials and employees.