WHEN President Duterte appointed lawyer Caesar R. Dulay to the crucial position of Internal Revenue commissioner, nobody could recognize his name, not even his fraternity brothers from the College of Law of Ateneo de Manila University.
“When we heard the name, it seemed like nobody knew who he was. Even when I asked our partners at the firm and they said we actually shared the same fraternity, I still didn’t know who he was,” said Emmanuel R. Sison of the law firm of the Quiason Makalintal Barot Torres Ibarra Sison and Damaso.
Dulay explained only a very few people know him as “Caesar,” and his family and friends had always called him by the name of “Billy” since he was a kid.
“When I was young, I used to hang out with my father in the company where he works and where he was the union president. There would be expats there who would call me Billy. And I’ve been using that name since,” Dulay said in an exclusive interview with the BusinessMirror.
Even up to the time that he already graduated from law school from the Ateneo de Manila University at around the age of 25 and to this day, his family and friends still called him Billy.
In the same manner that his nickname became attached to him, his choice of profession later in life was also chosen for him by his friends and family who wanted him to become a lawyer.
“I was always attracted to being a pilot,” Dulay said. “I guess I got brainwashed into getting into law because, while I was growing up, everybody referred to me as ‘attorney.’ And so, that was the direction that I took.”
As a lawyer, Dulay honed his skills in litigation and arbitration, and established a good practice in corporate law, but he did not practice taxation law.
However, this does not put him at a disadvantage in running the affairs of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), since he is well versed in management and the BIR already has enough experts in taxation, he only needs to consult them on how to effect the policies of the Duterte administration.
“Just like what the President said, it is only about management. I don’t have to know everything about taxation, but I know how to become a manager,” Dulay added.
During his earlier years as a practicing lawyer, he practiced law and became a partner of the law firm of Tanjuatco and partners. He also became corporate secretary of the Alcantara Group of Cos. and assistant vice president and assistant general counsel of Philippine Airlines.
But his values of discipline and integrity were most put to good use when he served as a commissioner of the Commission on Bar Discipline, under the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, wherein he investigated complaints against members of the Philippine Bar and gave recommendations regarding disciplinary actions against erring lawyers.
The policies of the Duterte administration in the BIR are focusing on making the tax administration more efficient and taxpayer-friendly to entice more taxpayers to voluntarily comply with their tax obligations.
About 97 percent of the total collection of the BIR is collected through the voluntary compliance of taxpayers, and only a very small percentage of the annual collection comes from enforcement through tax-evasion cases and collection cases.
Dulay said he would like to focus on making the regulations taxpayer-friendly to make it easier for taxpayers to pay the correct taxes.
According to Senate President Aquilino L. Pimentel III, who spoke during the annual anniversary celebration of the BIR last week, Mr. Duterte had been referring to Dulay as a “holy man.”
“That’s how he refers to you, when you’re not around,” Pimentel told Dulay in his speech at the anniversary.
“So I guess, we would just have to find out which agency between the BIR and the Bureau of Customs [BOC] will come up with a better act. The one headed by a holy man, or the one headed by an executioner in the BOC,” Pimentel quipped.
One of the activities which make Dulay a “holy man” is his involvement in an outreach program for persons with disabilities, particularly those stricken with Down Syndrome.
Through the establishment and support of the L’Arche communities in selected areas in the Philippines starting way back in 1987, Dulay had been helping persons with disabilities cope with their condition.
He said he would still continue his advocacy to help persons with disabilities, even with his now busy schedule as the commissioner of the BIR, although he would have to cut down on volunteer work at the L’Arche communities and confine his involvement to attending the regular Eucharistic celebration held there during the second Sunday of each month.
“When you visit there, you will not only see the improvement in their condition. But the most important thing is the dignity which they find for themselves. We treat them normally, and they don’t feel that they are disadvantaged,” Dulay said.
Aside from his advocacy to help persons with disabilities, Dulay is also active in other evangelical missions. He has served as trustee of the Philippine Catholic Lay Mission, and as corporate secretary of the Familia Community Foundation Inc., a nonstock corporation dedicated to mission work for the spiritual renewal of families.