MANILA, Philippines?If this Department of Justice official were to be followed, the Department of Finance should be slowing down in pinning suspected smugglers and tax evaders and focus instead on building airtight cases against them.
?Maybe they should reassess their policy of filing charges every two weeks, with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs alternating. Are we achieving the objective of pinning them down?? a ranking Justice Department official told the Inquirer in a recent interview.
The official requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter.
Every week, the DOF files charges alternately against alleged smugglers and tax evaders, with officials of the BIR and Customs holding press conferences at the Justice Department to announce the cases they are filing under Run against Tax Evaders (RATE) and Run after Smugglers (RATS) programs, respectively.
The RATE and RATS programs were launched in 2005 during Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima's first stint at the DOF.
The Aquino administration stepped up its campaign to go after tax evaders and smugglers to shore up the cash-strapped government's coffers.
President Aquino himself announced the first case of tax evasion under his administration in his State of the Nation Address in July.
Since then, the BIR and Customs have filed dozens of cases against alleged tax evaders and smugglers at the DOJ, including personalities like movie director Carlo J. Caparas, pawnshop owner William Villarica, and Pilipinas Shell.
Having to file cases every two weeks takes away substantial time to conduct an honest-to-goodness investigation, the Justice Department official said, stressing there ought to be enough documents and evidence against the suspects before a case is filed.
?At the outset, there should already be evidence. The evidence should not be made to follow. That would be unfair to the respondent,? the official said.
The official expressed concern that the public prosecutors would end up getting the blame if the cases were dismissed due to lack of evidence.
?Eventually, they (BIR and Customs) might be discredited?or us at the DOJ,? the official said.