Panelo clarifies: Cops may accept only ‘unsolicited gifts’
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Sunday clarified President Rodrigo Duterte’s “accepting-gifts-not-bribery” remark, saying that the chief executive was only referring to unsolicited gifts given “as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship.”
The President earlier said that there would nothing wrong if police officers would accept “gifts” from people grateful for their work, adding that receiving gifts given out of gratitude could not be considered a violation of the law.
Citing the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Panelo said “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” are exempted from the anti-graft provisions.
Panelo added that “unsolicited gifts of nominal or insignificant value not given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, a favor from a public official or employee” are also exempted under the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
“We must see the context where the President is coming from. As the local chief executive of Davao City for more than two decades, he witnessed first-hand how local authorities in his city fought tooth and nail with the criminal elements and the dregs of society and how some members of the public showed their appreciation — through gifts — in transforming Davao City as one of the safest places in Asia today,” Panelo said in a statement.
“Unlike other politicians who forget their laws and grab at opportunity to find fault at what the President says or does, PRRD [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte] is a lawyer by profession and training, thus he knows these exemptions are envisioned by the law and is therefore precisely referring to the same during the event,” the presidential spokesperson added.
Panelo added that giving of the gifts was merely to show “an appreciation by a thankful community for a job well done” by law enforcers.
“Certainly it is not given in anticipation of — or in exchange for — a favor from the members of the police force. The gift-giving in fact inspires them to do their work faithfully and efficiently as their toil is not left unnoticed and unappreciated,” he said.
Speaking at the 118th Police Service anniversary in Camp Crame, the President said that receiving gifts out of given out “gratitude” could not be considered a form of bribery.
“It is not bribery because it is allowed by the law. What I mean is if there is generosity. And then the anti-graft law says you cannot accept gifts. That’s nonsense,” the President said, speaking partly in Filipino.
Following the President’s remark, Sen. Panfilo Lacson tweeted: “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.”
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