Malacañang on Monday, August 13, defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s stance on police officers accepting gifts given out of gratitude or generosity.
According to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, police officers can accept gifts of “nominal value” for as long as these are not “excessive.”
“What is important is hindi yun binigay (that is not given) in anticipation of a favor coming from the recipient or in exchange of a favor from the recipient which is a police officer,” Panelo told the media.
“Dapat ‘di nila tatanggapin kung masyado naman malaki (They should not accept it if the gift is too big),” he added.
On Friday, August 9, Duterte told policemen that he does not consider accepting gifts as a form of bribery.
“Basta kung bigyan kayo, eh tanggapin ninyo (If they give you a gift, accept it). It is not bribery because — it cannot be bribery because it is allowed by law,” he said.
Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde, meanwhile, assured everyone that police officers would not accept gifts with strings attached.
“Sa batas natin ‘yung insignificant ‘yung value gaya po ng mga pagkain na consumable na maliit na bagay. Pero ‘yun pong malalaking bagay lalo na kapag may kapalit na pabor, bawal na bawal po ‘yan (Under the law, policemen could accept those with insignificant value like food and other small things. But significant gifts, especially in exchange of favors, are not allowed),” he said Monday on radio DZMM.
“Gifts are a small matter”
Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, for his part, admitted that he had accepted gifts before as a PNP official in defense of Duterte’s remarks.
“The president is a practical person and I’m practical, too. I admit I received (gifts) before,” he said during an interview with radio station DZBB.
According to him, the issues being raised against Duterte were a “small matter to be paid attention to.”
“Gifts are a small matter. It’s happening anywhere, everywhere. It’s in our culture,” Dela Rosa said.
The former PNP official recalled that he had been given food and equipment by families he helped while he was serving in Davao City.
“What was I to do? Tell them that we’ll not eat (their food) because it’s forbidden? I’d be a hypocrite if I say that I did not accept,” Dela Rosa said.
“Those (gifts) were not asked by the police, they’re voluntarily given to help the work of the police, why should we not accept (them)?” he added.
However, Dela Rosa warned PNP officials to exercise caution in accepting gifts as they may have strings attached or may conflict with their duties.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan pointed out that Duterte’s permission for police officers to accept gifts will only make them “more abusive and corrupt.”
On Sunday, August 8, he said that if Duterte’s order will be followed, “there will come a time when policemen will not act if there is no grease and the police will only side with the rich who can afford a lot of grease.”
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde said on Monday that said that any gift was prohibited “lalo na kapag may kapalit na pabor,” (especially when it’s in exchange for a favor).
“Meron po tayong sinusunod na code of ethical standard ng ating public officials and employees yun po ang sinusunod natin, baka po magkamisinterpretation and ating kapulisan (We are following the code of ethical standard for public officials and employees, that is what we are following, our police may misinterpret it),” Albayalde said in a radio interview on dzMM. He added that the president may be referring to gifts with “insignificant” value, such as food.
Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which prohibits public officials and employees to “solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties.”