10 August 2009

What is Wrong with this Picture?

Last 12 July 2009, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) posted an ad in one of the major dailies in the country for the sole purpose of increasing their pathetic collection efficiency ratio. The ad (a bigger photo posted below) showed a vagrant mother cradling a sleeping infant while holding a beggars cup and with the message "Maatim mo ba silang nakawan?" (Can you forgive yourself by stealing from them) on top and "Ang hindi pagbayad ng buwis ay pagnakaw sa kanilang kinabukasan" (By not paying the right taxes you are depriving them of their future) at the lower right corner.

Now, what on earth prompted a tax collection agency to post such an irresponsible ad in the papers? Do they really think all the honest taxpayers are fools? Of course we all pay our taxes, but not for the purpose of giving dole-outs to lazy and undeserving parents who breed like rabbits without thinking about the consequences of their actions.

With unemployment rising, kidnapping crime rampant, asset repossession soaring, financial regulatory agencies being played like fools by insurance companies and money tighter than ever, when are government executives at the BIR going to get it through their thick heads that most Filipino who are illegible to vote in 2010 don’t give a toss about these professional squatters and vagrants on the streets.

How deluded is BIR right now? Unfettered by considerations of public reaction or even world opinion, the agency could not even pin down a high-profile tax case they filed against Billionaire Lucio Tan. As long as tax collectors are not prepared to get the big sharks in business and in Congress, there is no chance in hell that they will earn the respect from rational-minded Filipinos. As long as the agency is riddled with appeasers of MalacaƱang bigwigs and firebrand 'lawmakers', there is no way that they will attract sympathy from anybody.

If the mother and child portrayed in the ad are not paid professionals and are really poor and fate has not been kind to them, the big question that comes to mind is, what did the BIR do to help them? Once they have taken that photo and used it to promote their immature views, what action did they take if they took any?

This naive way of portraying the poor and the vulnerable in the papers to collect taxes is in sharp contrast to the lavish lifestyle of the politicians in MalacaƱang and Congress in sending their families abroad at the taxpayers’ expense. Despite the questionable way on how these officials earn their living, the BIR has not made any significant move to investigate anyone of them. And for this agency to now post an ad in the papers on how taxes should be used to help the poor while lawmakers continue to enrich themselves is almost as nauseating as the indifference the agency has shown in addressing the needs of the poor squatting at the back of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), a neighboring agency at the Quezon Circle.

However, what is tragic of all is the fact that the poor are not dying because of non-payment of taxes, but they’re being sacrificed on the altar by the BIR's continuing and illogical fixation to satisfy the greedy appetite of those in power.