Palace on gift-taking: ‘Use your discretion’
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday continued to defend President Rodrigo Duterte, following criticisms of his remarks that policemen may accept gifts given out of gratitude, and further advised recipients to “use your discretion” in accepting such gifts.
“The law is very clear, what do you mean guidelines? You don’t need guidelines,” said presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
‘Law does not specify’
But also noting that Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, does not specify the value or worth of the gift that a public servant can accept, Panelo said, “the law does not specify. So you use your right discretion. We have standards of what is excessive or not.”
Asked if the law should be clarified, Panelo said “that is for the lawmakers” and the Palace’s role was to “only implement.”
He cited a “house and lot” as being too expensive as gifts, which public servants should reject.
“Then they should not accept it if it is too much,” Panelo said. “If it is too much and it is too embarrassing to accept, then maybe you shouldn’t.”
“Maybe you have to use your discretion there. If a billionaire gives you a gift, even if it’s a big deal for him, it is not for him,” he said further.
“But what is important is that the giving is not in consideration or anticipation of favor, or in exchange of a favor. That’s the very test.”
“If it’s your birthday, then a gift for a birthday. Gift for a wedding. That sort. We all know that.”
No grease money
“As a general rule, you shouldn’t accept. But if you didn’t ask for it, and you were given a chicken out of gratitude. Or pork and beans.”
“What is allowed is that you didn’t ask for it and you did your job faithfully. And then out of generosity, the one you helped gave you a little gift,” Panelo said.
“What is not allowed is corruption or grease money. You cannot be performing your job because you are waiting for something. Or you will only move because you were given something, that is clearly not allowed.”
Not given as bribes
Also interviewed about the matter, Philippine National Police chief Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde affirmed Mr. Duterte’s point that policemen may accept gifts or tokens of appreciation so long as these are not given as bribes.
“But expensive items, particularly those given in exchange for favors, those are really prohibited,” Albayalde told dzMM. —With a report from Jeannette I. Andrade
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