PBBM’s appointment of Romeo Lumagui, Jr. as head of the BIR is a slap in the face of the Filipino people.
It is a declaration of intent: he will act in his best interests, not in the best interests of the people, and of the country. And it looks like he will not be gainsaid – neither by the legislature, nor the judiciary. And (sob), not even by the traditional media.
What is my basis for saying this? Just look at their Curriculum Vitaes (CV), which I googled:
Ms. Guillermo was replaced as head of the BIR four months after she was appointed by PBBM. What rational being, what human resource department, what country-first Filipino, faced with such CVs, would choose Mr. Lumagui over Ms Guillermo?
Now Reader, these CVs were put together from what I gathered from googling on the internet. They are not necessarily complete. But with Ms Guillermo, I happened across her TV interview on ANC, and I was impressed by her answers both with regard to the Marcos estate tax issue (if it was indeed final and executory, she was going to collect) and what to do to increase the efficiency and capability of the BIR (less personal contact, more use of big data to cross check taxpayers – in other words more use of ICT, of which she was an expert). She was there for a long time, after all. This was the opportunity for her to do what needs to be done. She also struck me as a person with great moral fortitude.
The CV of Mr. Lumagui raises questions. He co-founded his law partnership in 2016. He also joined, it seems, the BIR in 2016. Does that mean he went on leave from his law partnership almost immediately after he co-founded it? Why would anyone do that? When and why did he leave BIR?
He was campaigning for BBM, and one cannot be a government employee and be partisan. So he must have left the BIR before the elections. If he did not, there are legal consequences.
The choice of Lumagui, it seems to me, shows that PBBM is now confident enough to show his real face to the Filipino people. Serving his best interests comes first before serving them. And he does not even have to explain his actions.
Is it because he is confident that the legislature and even the judiciary are under his thumb? And also the traditional media? I hope I am wrong, but I haven’t heard that important question posed: what happened to Ms. Guillermo? And why the glaringly poor choice?
The economic managers of the country should have said something, don’t you think? The BIR’s performance is an essential cog in widening the much needed fiscal space of the country, after all. But nary a word from them. Is the team, which was the bright spot on the country’s horizon, starting to unravel?
In which case, what we are looking at is not just a slap in the face, it might be a near fatal blow to the head.