Duterte stresses no-gift policy; tells luxury watch giver to reclaim item

Published July 27, 2021, 4:01 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has been showered with expensive gifts over the years but is never really impressed with any of them. In fact, the President has a firm no-gift policy especially during the holiday season.

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his sixth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26, 2021. (Malacañang)

In his sixth State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, July 26, the President claimed that he has not accepted gifts since he started public office decades ago. The former Davao City mayor recalled instances about getting presents, from luxury watches to guns, from supporters while he in office.

“Sa Davao noong mayor ako, ni minsan hindi ako tumatanggap maski Christmas gift (When I was mayor in Davao, I never accepted any Christmas gift),” he said.

“Dito marami sa dito sa Maynila Presidente ako ngayon, maraming nagpapadala ng baril, kung anong ano diyan, sabi ko, ‘Isauli mo ‘yan”. Iyong mga relo (There were many people in Manila sending me guns and other gifts. I said, ‘Return the gifts, the watches, to sender),” he added.

Duterte has been known for his simple lifestyle but on the special occasion Monday, he wore a Swiss luxury watch IWC for his final SONA before the joint session of Congress.

In his speech, Duterte bared that he was once given a Patek Philippe watch but declined to accept it. He asked his aide to throw the luxury watch into Pasig River if the giver refused to take it back.

“Eh itong aking relo (My watch) it’s IWC. This is only 300,000. But the Patek that has come [my] way, isinauli ko talaga. “Return it o ‘pag hindi, itapon mo sa Pasig sa harapan nila (I returned it. I said, return it or else, throw it into Pasig River in front of them),” he said.

In 2019, the President 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.

The Palace previously said gifts of nominal value as a token of gratitude according to local customs are exempted from the provisions of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.