Beware Kim Henares’ eyes, ears

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

The woman  many people love to hate is Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner  Kim Henares. Her eyes and ears are on their pockets.  For sure, on top of the list is the world renowned boxing champ Manny Paquiao, and the others are professionals not paying the proper taxes, as shown in print ads —  a doctor  riding on the back of a teacher, a chef carrying an  accountant,  and a construction foreman carrying an online seller. The message is simple: some taxpayers pay less than they should, becoming a “burden” to the lower-paid taxpayers, who are automatically taxed by their employers.

 I know doctors who cried, “Unfair! Unfair! Commissioner Henares should have been more sensitive and careful with her words.”

Commissioner Henares was guest at last week’s Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel Hotel, and was all smiles as she answered questions from media persons about her job as the country’s tax woman.

When Henares took on the post two years ago, she knew her job was to collect taxes that would be the government’s biggest source of income. Her predecessors  faced the same challenge and failed to meet the target goal. Based on studies, she used the strategy of utilizing a core Filipino value: hiya (shame, or embarrassment). The piggyback riders indeed felt embarrassed, like doctors  who add a few more pesos to the bill when patients ask for a senior citizen’s discount.

With her staff members diligently helping her, auditing books and sales reports, she knows exactly who, and how much or little, the rich and famous are paying and evading paying. Her first salvo was running after  reported tax evading celebrities as Judy Ann Santos, Regine Velasquez and Richard Gomez. When President Aquino told a meeting of the federation of Chinese businessmen that most of them were not paying the right taxes, he was using information provided by Henares. 

Henares joined BIR in 2010. Statistics from her office showed that BIR collection for 2013 grew by 15 percent, exceeding the December 2013 target by 6.44 percent. For December 2013, collections from BIR operations amounted to P94.07 billion. Which is P8.25 billion or 9.1 percent more than collections made in December 2012.  

The commissioner took up accounting in De La Sale University, then law in Ateneo de Manila University, with second honors upon completion. She took her masters in law in Georgetown University, the same US school former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo attended.  She said that she became good with numbers as she had advanced math classes in Chinese schools, while her interest in law started during her high school days where she liked debating.

Prior to her appointment as head of BIR, she served as BIR deputy commissioner for special concerns during the Arroyo administration. She also served as a senior private sector development specialist for the International Finance Corp./World Bank. Records show that while she was working at the World Bank, she was already helping BIR on a reform project concerning the country’s $11 million loan.

Her monthly salary is P95,000, but her take-home pay is only P48,000.

Has she received death threats for her running after big-time tax evaders? No, she told Bulong Pulungan, but she took up target shooting because she wanted to know how to shoot  before someone beat her to the draw. She has all calibers of guns — 9, 40, 45, and long guns — which are all kept at home in a locked cabinet.

Henares has changed her tact, and this time it’s called Register, File, Pay.

Her parting words at Bulong was, that her mission is “a golden opportunity for Filipinos, so we can do something positive. (Paying taxes) will help make a strong nation and our society better.”

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Days of darkness and despair in Tacloban are gradually turning into light, with assistance pouring in from government, local and international volunteer groups. For its part, the University of the Philippines has rescued thousands of its students from its Tacloban and Palo campuses and is providing them with new hope. The UP System has farmed out students to different units of the university, giving them cross-registrant status, providing them living quarters, food and other kinds of assistance.

The UP Diliman campus houses over 500 student survivors of typhoon Yolanda. In combined efforts, the UP Diliman chancellor, vice-chancellor for student affairs, the Community Chest, the UP Health Center, and the Church of the Risen Lord of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines’ ecumenical ministry, together with donors and volunteers, have joined hands to help the UP Tacloban student survivors now in UP Diliman.

According to Prof. Chit Tapales, the UP Church of the Risen Lord (CRL) and its congregation have been very active partners of UP in this effort. It provides lunch for over 200 students every day, Monday to Friday, at its Gumersindo Garcia fellowship fall. With  a hundred individual and organizational donors as well as volunteers, the CRL provides food, prayers, counseling, tutorials and facilities to the displaced UP students. The project has been aptly called Bangon Pag-asa.

To instill additional bonding between UP Tacloban and UP Diliman students, an  acapella choir  has been formed called Himig Paga-asa. It has sung at CRL services and outside UP, and hold its rehearsals at CRL.

On Friday, March 21, the CRL will celebrate the end of one successful semester of Bangon Pag-asa with “An Evening of Thanksgiving and Prayers” to be held at its sanctuary at 6 p.m. The program will feature Himig Pag-asa as well the CRL Chancel Choir, who will sing hymns of hope and thanksgiving. UP officials will grace the occasion with inspirational messages.

After the musical/service, the participants and guests will sit together at dinner at the CRL rock garden, where thanks will be given by the UP Tacloban students to their donors and volunteers through more music and camaraderie.

Indeed, through many hands working together, UP Tacloban-Palo students who have gone through the nightmare of the worst typhoon in the world can now see glimmers of hope and light.

Coordinating the help for UP Tacloban students  are Jean Puno, Atty. Ador Hizon, Phoebe Maata and Bishop Jesse Suarez.         

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The Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) would like to inform victims and survivors of abuses during martial law that no fees are required to file claims for recognition and reparations under RA 10368 entitled “An Act Providing for Reparations and Recognition of Victims of Human Rights Violations During Marcos Regime, Documentation of Said Violations, Appropriating Funds Therefor and For Other Purposes” (also known as Martial Law Victims’ Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013).

This is in response to queries on how to file claims or if there are fees, now that the Claims Board is already constituted by President Aquino.

Interested parties may communicate with the  Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board, ISSI Building, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, by tel. +0999-5059737, or email:[email protected].

The Claims Board advises survivors and families of victims of human rights violations to be wary of persons charging fees for a promise of access to the board or any of its members.

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Email: [email protected]










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