INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año yesterday reminded government workers, especially those in the Philippine National Police (PNP), that their services are fully paid by the people through taxes and that gifts in exchange for favors or as a form of bribe is in direct violation of the law and their oath of service.
Año’s reminder came in the wake of discussions about President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that there is nothing irregular in receiving money or gifts from donors for as long it was given with all sincerity and not for the purpose of bribery.
Año pointed out that although an exception is provided under the law, he still believed in the sanctity of the government bureaucracy as an institution for the selfless delivery of service to the people because public service is a reward in itself.
Año said as a matter of policy, employees under the DILG, including police officers, will be held criminally and administratively liable if they receive or solicit gifts of monetary value from people they serve or transact with in relation to their official functions.
Such policy is clearly stated in the National Police Commission Memorandum Circular 2016-002 which penalizes the act of soliciting or accepting directly or indirectly any gift of monetary value or the act of receiving for personal use of a fee, gift or other valuable thing in the course of official duties in expectation of receiving a favor or better treatment.
“Our laws are not unmindful of the Filipino culture of showing their appreciation towards those who help us, including public servants,” said Año, citing Sec. 14 of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act that unsolicited gifts or presents of small or insignificant value offered or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship is an exception to graft and corrupt practices.
He added that it is in this context that the President’s statement must be appreciated as explained by the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.
“In fact, it has been my practice in my own office that I do not accept gifts from local government officials or other functionaries and any such gift sent to my office are immediately returned to the sender,” he said.
COPS NEED SOUND DISCRETION IN ACCEPTING GIFTS -- ALBAYALDE
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police chief General Oscar D. Albayalde yesterday said good reasoning allows members of the police force to distinguish a gift from a bribe.
“Reason allows us to distinguish a gift from a bribe. It only takes sound discretion to define the thin line that divides good from lesser evil,” the PNP chief said as he shared his thoughts on the propriety of police officers accepting gifts or token of gratitude or goodwill from well-meaning individuals.
“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, and that these gifts are not given as bribe,” said he explaining that Filipinos by nature are “thankful” and would give something to anybody who helps them.
“The PNP receives only gifts given as donations, properly issued with receipts and documents.
“The PNP remains to be bound by rules that govern our conduct under any given situation including existing laws against graft and corrupt practices; and the code of ethical standards for public officials.
“As a general rule there is no need to give gifts or token of gratitude for services rendered, because we are just doing our job and we are reasonably compensated for our services through our salaries, and the PNP morale and welfare policy offers appropriate recognition and acknowledgement of our services,” he said.
However, he admitted that on many occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas, “we find that food items are just delivered from anonymous senders and grateful public.”
With Alfred Dalizon