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Gifts and bribery

August 13, 2019 - Tuesday 4:08 AM by Allan Nawal

“We Filipinos are really known to be grateful. We give tips to those who have the simplest jobs such as janitors in government offices.”

 

Last week, Digong said he had no problem if the police would accept gifts given out of generosity or plain gratitude.

"If you are able to solve a crime and the family would like to be generous to you or would nurture a feeling of gratitude for what you accomplish, then by all means, accept it. Wala akong ano," he said in a speech at the 118th anniversary of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame.

Digong's pronouncement stirred controversy, especially from people who have been against his policies from the start or from people who are just waiting to seize any moment to criticize.

Those who wanted to appear so learned even quoted Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Under the law, public officials and employees are prohibited from soliciting or accepting – either directly or indirectly – gifts or anything of monetary value for performing their duties or for any transaction that their office handles.

The law itself was aimed at preventing public officials and employees from performing their jobs in consideration of favorable returns.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who is among the politicians I admire because of his continued rejection of pork barrel, warned that allowing policemen to receive unsolicited gifts could start off “insatiable greed.”

"Mr. President, insatiable greed starts with simple, petty graft. It could be more addicting than drugs. There is no detox, nor is there rehab facility available for addiction to money," he said on Twitter.

Digong's vice president was even more definitive: “It's there, (the law is) very specific that public officials and employees cannot solicit or receive any kind of gift.”

The problem with Robredo is that she is not truthful about this.

When a group, calling itself “Piso para kay Leni,” raised money for her legal battle against Bongbong Marcos, Robredo did not feel she was violating the law.

The group had raised P6.5 million to help her in her expenses and she was as silent as a felled log.

In August 2017, the Supreme Court rejected the group's plea to help fund her legal battle. Even when the SC already made the decision, Robredo's camp had still not rejected the gift. Instead, her legal adviser – Barry Gutierrez – only had one thing to say to the group: Thank you.

And because the SC did not allow the money to be spent for her legal battle, it went to the construction of houses for the Marawi evacuees. While she did not directly accept the donation for Marawi as vice president, Robredo went there when the construction began and said the project was part of the efforts of the Office of the Vice President.

So if we will use the law, she would be guilty of accepting gifts or donations in furtherance of her job as VP. However noble the intention is, she would still be guilty of violation of RA 6713, correct?

Now, back to Digong's statement on receiving gifts of gratitude. We Filipinos are really known to be grateful.

We give tips to those who have the simplest jobs such as janitors in government offices. During Christmas, Christians would prioritize giving gifts to those whom they perceived to have helped them in one way or another – government officials included.

Muslims would give hadiya or a gift, which a person gives out of goodwill to increase the bonds of friendship – even with a policeman who might have helped a Muslim in some ways.

So is accepting gifts really a form of bribery?

It would really depend on the situation. If the gift is voluntarily given for favors, that would be unlawful.

But if a gift is given because of an excellent job performed, I believe it is not bribery but a form of gratitude, which we Filipinos are really known for.

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