THIS writer had the pleasure the second time around of being with the Participating Organizations (POs) composed of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-CAR as representative of Engr. Alfonso T. Lao, Governor, PCCI-CAR to join the 5th "Handang Maglingkod Program" (HMP) of the Bureau Internal Revenue (BIR) last July 12-116, 2010 in the Cordillera Region.

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Handang Maglingkod Program (HMP) was first launched in 19990 pursuant to Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) No. 12-90, RMO No. 43-92, in 1992, RMO 23-94 in 1994. In 2009 the project was revived through RMO-15-2009 to pursue the Vision of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) as an institution of service of excellence. In all the years it was undertaken, this project involved the evaluation and selection of the BIR offices which render the most effective taxpayers service.

This year under RMO 28-2010, the Handang Maglingkod Project (HMP) for the fifth time was launched last March 18, 2010 and the awarding of winners shall be made during the BIR anniversary Celebration sometime in August 2010.

HMP 2010 was recently conducted with the end in view of its institutionalization. This time, the project will cover not only the Revenue District Offices but also other offices in the BIR that render frontline services to taxpayers through the establishment of the Taxpayer Service Area (TSA). Additional measures and tools, as well as best taxpayer service practices will be adopted to evaluate the performance of covered BIR offices.

The objectives of the putting up of the Taxpayer Service Area of the Handang Maglingkod Project ( HMP) are: to project a service-oriented image of the BIR; promote the delivery of fast, efficient and courteous service to taxpayers; provide a specific reception area for taxpayers availing of the services of the BIR; serve as a "one-stop-shop" to address taxpayers needs; implement the changes in the taxpayer feedback system involving the conduct of a satisfaction survey as a means to evaluate the effectiveness of the services rendered to taxpayers and provide taxpayers updated information on tax rules, procedures and developments.

The Participating Organizations' (POs) five-day visit and selection process to various Revenue District Offices in the Cordilleras with their Revenue District Officers such as the following; Dr. Elmer A. Paderes, Ph.D of RDO 7 in Bangued, Abra, Ms. Fely C. Simon, RDO 8 in Baguio City; Ms. Irene A. Goze, RDO 9, Benguet; Mr. P. George C. Caburao, RDO 10, Mt. Province, Mr. Conrado P. Tangkia, RDO 11, Kalinga and Mr. Rustico M. Bayani, RDO 12 in Ifugao, is a success. Aside from the mandated Information Education Campaign activities the BIR had to undertake, the team summarizes the following innovative taxpayer service practices initiated and implemented by the different RDOs in their respective areas:

* The use of TIN Information/verification

* The use of queue numbers in cases of last hour payment

* One-on-one taxpayers' information drive

* Recognition, awarding and Posting of top 10 taxpayers from individual, LGU and corporations and top 300 to other areas

* Office expansion and additional office amenities

* Reaching out and serving the taxpayers rather than waiting for them

* Express lane for senior citizens, pregnant women and especially able taxpayers

* Strengthened linkages with partner LGUS and other government agencies

* Assist the taxpayers in filling up the required BIR forms

* Putting up nuggets of wisdom/Human Relations related quotations to different BIR division offices.

* Participation to the National Economic Research and Business Assistance Center

* And of course with the sweet smiling personnel manning the Taxpayer Service Area.

With the HMP activities in place in the Bureau of Internal Revenue, I can say with all honesty that in various Revenue District Offices in the Cordilleras, there is really a great change that took place in the delivery of fast, efficient and courteous "front line" services to taxpayers as evidenced by placing the region Number 6 out of 19 vied in 2009 "Gawad HMP."

The Participating Organizations' Selection team for this year 2010 hopes for the best! Good Luck Cordillera. May you be again at the top!