Police, CSC reject Duterte's 'accept gifts' remark

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 12) — President Rodrigo Duterte may have encouraged policemen to accept gifts or tokens of gratitude from the public, but the Philippine National Police warned those who will give and accept high-value gifts may be charged.

The PNP on Monday said police officers may only accept tokens with insignificant or no value at all, like plaques and small office items such as notebooks.

"Kailangan talaga ay mag-exercise ng due caution at prudence ang ating mga pulis pagdating sa mga regalo sa kadahilanang mahigit ang batas na ipinatutupad natin sa pagtanggap ng mga regalo... Tayo po ay sinuswelduhan ng ating mga kababayan mula sa taxpayers' money, ng Filipino people. Hindi po kailangan na magbigay sa mga pulis natin," PNP Spokesperson PBGen. Bernard Banac said.

[Translation: We must exercise due caution and prudence because we have laws that prohibit receiving gifts. We receive our salary from the taxpayers' money. There is no need to give us any more gifts.]

Banac said individuals who will give high-value items to them may face charges because it may already be considered as a form of bribery.

"Kung sino man na magtangka ng pamimigay ng malalaking halaga o mga bagay bilang regalo ay mapagsususpetsahan natin na maaaring may motibo ito," he said.

[Translation: There may be a motive behind those who will give us expensive gifts.]

Cops not allowed to receive gifts under the law – CSC

Civil Service Commission (CSC) Commissioner Aileen Lizada reiterated there are two laws that prohibit police officers from accepting gifts.

"Meron po tayong mechanism set in place (We have mechanisms in place). It is provided in the form of laws. So we have two laws, Republic Act 6713, the Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. As well as 3019, which is the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act... As far as the CSC is concerned, both laws are applicable," she told CNN Philippines.

The Commissioner specifically quoted Section 7(D) of RA 6713, which states, "Public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office."

She added the Department of Local and Interior Government has also issued a memorandum circular in 2016 which disallows receiving gifts for in the course of official work, calling the act a "grave misconduct." She said the DILG should clarify with the President how they will consolidate conflicting orders.

"It is best that the MC be clarified as to how the agency — to which the PNP belongs to — how will they interpret the pronouncements made by the President in accordance with the MC they issued," she said.

Duterte on August 9 said he won’t punish police officers who accept cash or “gifts” from the public, especially from those who want to recognize them for their successful work. The President — who has been hellbent on eradicating corruption in the government — also lambasted the anti-graft law. He argued that there’s nothing wrong with accepting rewards if the move was done out of gratitude and generosity.

“Hindi ko kayo iipitin. Basta kung bigyan kayo, tanggapin ninyo,” Duterte said during the 118th Police Service Anniversary event of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

[Translation: I won’t sanction you. If they give you something, then accept it.]

Despite conflict with the law, Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo said that as long as the gifts are not given in exchange for a favor from law enforcement officers, it is okay — and may even serve as an "inspiration" for them to work harder.

"What is important is yung binigay (what is given) is not in consideration or anticipation of a favor, or in exchange of a favor," Panelo said in a media interview Monday.

Pressed further on what counts as what counts as a gift of excess value, Panelo only went as far as to say that receiving a house and lot is definitely not allowed.

CNN Philippines tried to reach DILG officials for a comment, but they have yet to respond.