By Chito Chavez
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) insisted on Tuesday that personnel under its wings will be held criminally or administratively liable if they receive or solicit gifts from the public they are supposed to serve.
This declaration runs contrary to the stand of President Duterte who had earlier said that policemen may accept gifts out of gratitude.
‘‘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,’’ DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said.
‘’Such policy is clearly enunciated in 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,’’ he added.
The DILG maintained 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 noted the law was not unmindful of the Filipino culture of showing their appreciation towards those who ‘’help us, including public servants’’.
The DILG chief noted that Sec. 14 of RA 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, states that unsolicited gifts or presents of small or insignificant value offered or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship are an exception to graft and corrupt practices.
‘’It is in this context that the President’s statement must be appreciated as explained by the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel,’’ Año said.
‘’Although an exception is provided for in the law, may we remind our fellow workers in government, especially those in the Philippine National Police (PNP), that your services are already fully paid by the people through their taxes. Therefore, gifts received in exchange for favors or as a form of bribe are in direct violation of your oath of service and is a violation of law. 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,’’ Año said.
‘’Rest assured that the DILG will be relentless in its pursuit of a police organization that is corruption-free and will not renege on our internal-cleansing efforts in order to build a PNP that is worthy of the trust and confidence of the Filipino people,’’ he concluded.