By Corina Oliquino
FilAm Star Correspondent
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on August 9 urged police officers to receive gifts from generous and thankful benefactors, noting he did not care if cops earned from outlawed betting game video karera at the 118th anniversary of police service in Camp Crame.
“Hindi mo rin talaga mapigilan. Alam mo ‘yang pulis, even sa pamilya nila hirap ‘yan,” he added, warning police officers to control their greed.
Duterte said police officers should not be involved in illegal drug operations.
“Look at the police officers who are involved in drugs. You are a police officer of PNP, general (officer) kayo tapos papasok kayo (sa illegal drugs). ‘Yan ang mahirap. Do not ever commit the mistake,” he said, noting he did not consider gift-giving as bribery especially if it was given by people who were only expressing gratitude.
“Kung bigyan kayo tanggapin n’yo. It is not bribery… What I mean is if there is generosity in them. Sabi ng anti-graft you cannot accept gifts. Kalokohan,” he noted, adding those in Davao were aware of his generosity among those able to solve a crime.
Senators Panfilo Lacson and Bato dela Rosa gave their opinions on President Duterte’s remark about police officers receiving gifts as not bribery.
“Mr. President, insatiable greed starts with simple, petty graft. It could be more addicting than drugs. There is no detox, nor is there rehab facility available for addiction to money,” Lacson said in a Twitter post.
For Dela Rosa, receiving gifts is “no big deal” as long as it is given out of goodwill.
“The President is a very pragmatic individual. Anything that is given in the spirit of goodwill is not a problem,” Dela Rosa said in a text message.
Sen. Koko Pimentel also backed Duterte, noting modest or reasonable gifts were allowable “under our interpretation of the laws.”
“Because making that illegal would be contrary to Filipino custom. Ang naisip niya ay ‘yun pagbibigay ng lechon o cake sa police precinct/station, etc. out of appreciation for what they are doing or as a mere act of kindness,” Pimentel said.
“Christmas gift giving cannot also be outlawed. There’s also Eid’l Fitr gift giving by our Muslim brothers and sisters hence gift-giving cannot be totally prohibited,” Pimentel added, noting bribery is prohibited because it is giving to get something in return.
“Section 7 of Republic Act 6713 — the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees — prohibits the solicitation or acceptance of any gift in the course of official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office,” the report reads.
PNP agrees with Duterte’s pronouncement
In another report by GMA News, the Philippine National Police (PNP) through spokesperson Brigadier Gen. Bernard Banac agreed with President Duterte’s suggestion of cops taking gifts from generous benefactors.
“We submit to the better wisdom of our lawyer-president that it is harmless to receive gifts so long as there is no element of corruption involved and no oppression or abuse of authority is committed,” Banac said in a statement, noting there was no need for the public to offer gifts as cops were just doing their jobs.
“But in many occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas, we find that food items are just delivered from anonymous senders and the grateful public,” Banac said.
“RA 6713 strictly requires our adherence to the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for government officials and employees,” Banac added, noting: “Our intensified campaign on internal cleansing is on-going and we will never hesitate to investigate and charge PNP personnel found doing illegal acts.”
Not against the Code of Conduct
In a report by The Philippine Star, Malacañang through presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a radio interview on August 11, defended Duterte’s urging cops to take gifts given out of generosity or gratitude as not going against the Code of Conduct for Government Personnel after critics noted government personnel are bound by Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
“The President is right. Bribery comes in if you agree to receive something because you will be doing something for the other party,” Panelo said.
“But if you do something because it is part of your duty under the law and there were no discussions… there is nothing wrong if you are given a reward for what you did,” he added.