BIR tax fraud chief slain

By Katherine Adraneda
The Philippine Star 10/16/2003

Five unidentified gunmen shot and killed a ranking official of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) as he left home on his way to work in Quezon City yesterday morning.

Lawyer Armando Rosimo, head of the BIR Tax Fraud Division, was driving away from his house when the gunmen, apparently waiting near its gate, fired at his Honda Civic car.

Rosimo, 40, a widower and resident of No. 7 Alley 15, Road 3 in Project 6, died on the spot from gunshots to the head. The assailants, described as in their mid-20s, fled in a passing passenger jeepney on Visayas Avenue, police and witnesses said.

The motive for the killing was not immediately clear.

But police said there were reports that the victim had received death threats in connection with his job of investigating possible cases of corporate tax evasion.

"If this is work-related, I promise you we will identify (the perpetrators) and we will run them to the ground," BIR Commissioner Guillermo Parayno said.

Parayno said he was not aware of any death threats against Rosimo. He said Rosimo had on several occasions discussed a tax fraud case involving a big land developer but he doubted the firm was involved in the killing.

Investigator Senior Police Officer 4 Marcelino Castillo said one of the gunmen initially appeared and shot Rosimo as his car was turning right to Visayas Avenue from Road 3.

Four other gunmen approached the car and finished off Rosimo with caliber .45 automatics, police said.

Police are focusing on reports that a week before the ambush, several men were seen "casing" the Rosimo residence.

But Rosimo’s daughter, who declined to be identified, belied reports of death threats against her father. She said their family could not believe that Rosimo had been ambushed.

Police are focusing on the possibility that the killing was work-related.

The BIR’s Tax Fraud Division investigates tax fraud cases as well as carries out surveillance and prosecution of suspected smugglers and tax evaders.

Girly Lepalam, an employee of the division, said her boss might have incurred the ire of some big-time tax evaders.

"It is very possible that a case being handled by this office has something to do with this. But we are just doing our job," she said.

"We are all shocked and saddened here. He is a very kind boss, always concerned about his staff, approachable. He is a great loss to us," she added.

Other employees described Rosimo as a jolly and pious man.

They said Rosimo usually starts his day at the office by praying for 30 minutes. He was also known to quote verses from the Bible during his speeches and lectures to BIR employees.

Rosimo’s killing occurred in the wake of stepped up government efforts to crack down on failure to pay taxes in an effort to keep the country’s budget deficit under control. with AP, AFP


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