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People and Places

Kaya Natin! Fetes BIR Commissioner Lumagui for Good Governance

Romeo D. Lumagui, Jr.

“People react positively when they see signs of good governance.”

These were the initial words of Atty. Romeo D. Lumagui, Jr., the current Commissioner of Internal Revenue and now the latest recipient of recognition of good governance by the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership. The commissioner was feted in a simple ceremony on June 24 at The B Hotel in Quezon City on the 15th Founding Anniversary of the said group. Lead convenor Harvey Keh and former Senator Bam Aquino were present in giving of recognition to Commissioner Lumagui.

“They saw and felt the changes undertaken under our leadership in BIR and viewed these as indicators and groundwork for better service that is heading towards good governance,” said Commissioner Lumagui who is being lauded by the movement for championing good governance through efficient revenue and tax collection.

Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership was established in 2008 by outstanding local government leaders which included the late Jesse Robredo, husband of former Vice President Leni Robredo. Its current Chairperson is former Senator Bam Aquino. It is a non-profit organization composed of public servants and engaged citizens espousing the group’s values of effective, ethical, and empowering leadership.

“This is the first time that Kaya Natin! is partnering with the BIR. We’ve never partnered with the BIR but we realized that it is now headed by someone that we can fully trust, someone with utmost integrity, and really one of the champions of good governance,” Harvey Keh, lead convenor of Kaya Natin, stated in his introduction of the incumbent Commissioner.

Appointed as Commissioner of Internal Revenue only in November 2022, Lumagui steered the collection agency to new heights with a record-breaking collection in the first four months that yielded P 841.179 B. This was P14.319 B or 1.73% higher than its target collection for the same period and pegged higher by P98.809 B or 13.31% year on year from 2022.

Romeo D. Lumagui, Jr.“All our programs were formulated and executed in consonance to and consistent with four pillars of good governance in BIR,” emphasized the 44-year old commissioner.

According to Lumagui, the four pillars are: Excellent taxpayer service, digital transformation, integrity and professionalism of the institution, and fearless and aggressive enforcement activities. These pillars were the guidelines in the programs he implemented since the start of his stewardship of BIR.

The lawyer who obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the Ateneo de Manila University and finished 19th in the 2005 Bar Examinations, commenced his incumbency as Commissioner by filing a barrage of raids against illegal vape and cigarette traders that resulted to filing of multiple tax evasion charges. These criminal charges aim to plug the leakages from collection amounting to P46 B.

Romeo D. Lumagui, Jr.Just last month, Commissioner Lumagui then fired the opening salvo against the use of ghost receipts and run after fake transactions, dubbed as the most elaborate tax-evasion scheme in recent history. More than 900 billion pesos has been lost due to this scheme that has spanned two decades. It is the first time that a Commissioner of Internal Revenue has declared war on these ghost receipts.

Not to be spared from the filing of cases are unscrupulous employees inside the bureau. Commissioner Lumagui filed a criminal charge against a corrupt BIR employee who conspired with his wife to sell point-of-sale machines (POS) that automatically reduce reported sales to BIR. Estimated collection loss from the sale of these POS machines reached 6.1 billion pesos. Just recently, the Commissioner fired 26 of his employees with administrative cases ranging from grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, falsification of official documents, and gross neglect of duty to name a few.

Romeo D. Lumagui, Jr.Lumagui however was quick to characterize that all cases being filed against erring taxpayers or unscrupulous BIR employees are within the bounds of due process and observe the highest standards of the rule of law.

“The historic collection made by BIR in the first four months of the year does not only prove the competence and efficiency of the BIR employees when they see quality leadership, but likewise highlights the regained trust and confidence of the taxpaying public to BIR that translated to the record-breaking collection,” Lumagui quipped. “The Filipinos aspire and hope for good governance. And they know what good governance looks and feels like.”

Lumagui feels inspired aside from being grateful for the recognition of his milestones as commissioner. “We sincerely appreciate this recognition of what we have started in the bureau. Now, I am more driven and committed to continue our reforms as we elevate BIR from just a mere collection-driven agency to a service-oriented bureau for all taxpayers, in the hopes of being a champion of and promoting good governance within our backyard.”

“It’s still a long way to go in terms of achieving good governance from an organizational standpoint in BIR. What is important nonetheless is that given the limited time we have, we were able to set in motion programs about integrity, rule of law, and ethical leadership in BIR,” the Commissioner concluded.

Romeo D. Lumagui, Jr.

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