Palace: Public servants may accept gifts of small value

Published August 11, 2019, 8:06 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Genalyn Kabiling 

Public servants may accept gifts or tokens of gratitude as long as these are unsolicited presents of small value given without expecting anything in return, Malacañang insisted on Sunday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo explained that such gift-giving is exempted from the country’s anti-graft law, adding the token might even inspire cops to do their work faithfully and efficiently.

Panelo made the statement to dispute the “negative opinions and misplaced as well as erroneous pontification” by some groups about President Duterte’s comment that gift-giving to cops is not a form of bribery.

“Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, speaks of ‘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,’ as an exemption from the anti-graft provisions,” Panelo said.

He said unsolicited gifts of nominal or insignificant value “not given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, a favor from a public official or employee” is also an exemption under Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

“Unlike other politicians who forget their laws and grab at opportunity to find fault at what the President says or does, PRRD 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,” he added.

He maintained that giving a gift only shows public appreciation for a job well done, not necessary to curry any favor from the police. Such token of gratitude might also inspire law enforcers to continue to perform their job better.

“The giving of the gift is simply an appreciation by a thankful community for a job well done performed by the law enforcers whose lives flirt with death every time they step out of their homes,” he said.

“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 added.

He noted the President commented about gift-giving to cops following his peace and order campaign when he was mayor of Davao City.

“We must see the context where the President is coming from,” he said.

“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,” he added.

The President earlier saw nothing irregular if policemen accept gifts from people grateful for their service especially after solving a crime. Duterte, a former mayor and prosecutor, claimed accepting such token of gratitude does not constitute bribery.

Vice President Leni Robredo and some lawmakers however disagreed with the President who lets cops accept gifts, and warned against breeding corruption in the police ranks.

READ MORE: Gifts inspire cops to perform better – Palace