Top taxpayers wary of publicity in Zamboanga – BIR

April 18, 2013 2:41 am 

ZAMBOANGA CITY, April 17 — A top taxpayer accredited by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) could be a status symbol in the country or elsewhere in the world.

Such a taxpayer, like Presidential Sister Kris Aquino, could gain one some acclaim in newspaper pages and in television/radio reports as well as favorable comments in social media like Facebook.

However, such a status in Zamboanga could earn one – some later publicity – as one kidnap victim.

The kidnap victim will just be one among the many people, including those in media, that have lost count since kidnapping has become a "profitable backyard industry" long before the Abu Sayyaf grew wings and prospered as a kidnap for ransom group in Mindanao.

The kidnap victims include landowners, nurses, teachers, retirees, restaurant and resort owners or just practically anybody with the means to pay ransom.

There are even unconfirmed reports that small time kidnappers in the city grab students only to release their hostages after parents or relatives pay the ransom ranging from a few thousand pesos per hostage or more.

Fear of reprisals or another kidnap try forces these victims to keep quiet and not report the matter to the police… but the rumor prevails in town.

It is for this reason that BIR Regional Director Alert Alocilja hesitates about releasing names of top taxpayers in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

He said that while such a release of a list of top taxpayers "will encourage others to pay their taxes" the bureau could also unwittingly be providing kidnappers with a list of prominent and wealthy people in this city and the region.

The list of top taxpayers will also allow the kidnappers to estimate the amount of ransom to be demanded from relatives of kidnap victims based on their income tax returns.

In fact, except for public officials who walk about armed or accompanied by policemen, soldiers or marines (depending on their connections with the authorities) prominent non-government personalities shun publicity.

City councilors who hunger for the media limelight are all provided with nine millimeter pistols since two decades ago, while others secure Armalite rifles or carbines from those who can spare.

Local residents are not allowed to carry guns for protection in Zamboanga, since there is a permanent gun ban instituted in the city since a dozen years ago.

Society pages in local newspapers seldom print pictures of prominent people in town.

So who would like to be featured as a big taxpayer in Zamboanga or announce or talk about his wealth in town? (PNA)

CTB/FMS/SSC

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