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Gifts for cops: PNP defers to Duterte’s ‘better wisdom’

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police reminded its officers that they cannot accept gifts from the public, but said it would defer to the “better wisdom” of President Rodrigo Duterte, who earlier said it was OK to receive gifts as long as there was no corruption or abuse involved.

In a statement on Saturday, PNP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, said “we always explain to the public that there is no need for them to give gifts as we are just doing our job and we get paid by the Filipino people through our salaries.”

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But Banac said “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.”

‘Anonymous senders’

Banac also noted that “[on] many occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas, we (PNP personnel) find that food items are just delivered from anonymous senders and grateful public. So instead of letting them get spoiled, we distribute them to the inmates in cells and the barangay tanods [watchmen] and volunteers.”

Speaking at a Camp Crame program on Friday marking the 118th anniversary of the country’s police service, Mr. Duterte said he would not begrudge police officers for accepting gifts from generous citizens.

‘Generosity’

“I will not stop you. If you are given [something], take it. It is not bribery …. It cannot be bribery because it is allowed by law. What I mean [is], if there’s generosity in them, according to the antigraft law, you cannot accept gifts? Foolishness,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“If you’re able to solve a crime and the family would like to be generous to you or nurture a feeling of gratitude for what you accomplished, then you accept. I have nothing against that. But to us that is something,” he added.

Unsolicited gifts

Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, prohibits public officers from “directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the government and any other party, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law.”

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Section 14, however, states: “Unsolicited gifts or presents of small or insignificant value offered or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship according to local customs or usage, shall be excepted from the provisions of this Act.”

Another law, Republic Act No. 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, states in Section 7 that “(P)ublic officials and employees shall not 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 or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.”

RA 6713 also excludes from that offense “unsolicited gift[s] of nominal or insignificant value not given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, a favor from a public official or employee.”

Like ‘jueteng’ payola

Reacting to the President’s remarks, Sen. Panfilo Lacson maintained that accepting gratitude money from victims of crime is no different from accepting payoffs from illegal gambling.

“I didn’t want my men to discriminate against poor complainants whom they presumed incapable of giving rewards if assisted. I thought it was similar to accepting monthly payoffs from ‘jueteng’ operators so they wouldn’t be raided and arrested,” said the senator, a former PNP chief. —With a report from Inquirer Research

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TAGS: Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, bribery, corruption, gifts, PNP‎, police officers, Rodrigo Duterte
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