By Anna Leah Gonzales

ARRESTED. Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. speaks to a BIR employee who is now behind bars for extorting money from a business establishment. Lumagui warned that such employees have no place in the BIR. (Photo courtesy of BIR)

MANILA – Police arrested a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) employee for reportedly extorting money from a business establishment during an entrapment last Feb. 14.

In a statement on Monday, BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. said the agency received reports of a certain individual that was repeatedly extorting money from a business establishment selling kid’s bikes, under the guise of an official BIR Tax Compliance Verification Drive.

The BIR, in coordination with barangay officials and the Philippine National Police, caught the person in an operation and discovered that he is an employee of the bureau. It was not, however, his official function to be in the taxpayer’s place of business or vicinity.

“All BIR officials conducting enforcement activities must be armed with the proper authority either a Letter of Authority or Mission Order. Taxpayers can always ask and verify the authority by which a BIR employee is visiting their office or business,” Lumagui said.

The suspect is facing charges for criminal cases of robbery (extortion), grave coercion and usurpation of official function or authority, violations of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

“Pinangako ko ang (I vowed for the) integrity and professionalism of the institution and employees. Kaya hindi natin palalagpasin ang mga ganitong gawain. Walang lugar sa bagong BIR ang mga ganitong empleyado (We will not tolerate these kind of activities. Such employees have no place in the new BIR),” Lumagui said. (PNA)