‘Gov’t workers may end up favoring those who give them gifts’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 22) — An advocacy group warned that those who habitually give gifts to government workers, including policemen, may end up getting preferential treatment.

“If there are certain people who regularly give gifts, especially to our civil servants, including policemen, baka ang mangyari diyan itong mga nagbibigay ng gifts, ito ang bibigyan ng attention or priority ng ating mga [government] employees, including policemen,” Center for People Empowerment for Governance vice chair Roland Simbulan told CNN Philippines’ On the Record.

[Translation: If there are certain people who regularly give gifts, especially to our civil servants, including policemen, maybe they will be given more attention or priority by our government employees, including policemen.]

Simbulan said that he knows of certain establishments that got preferential treatment from the police because they frequently gave them gifts.

“They have been given special treatment by certain law enforcers in terms of providing protection to them rather than the general public,” he said.

This is why he said government employees should not receive gifts at all, regardless of its value.

President Rodrigo Duterte said earlier this month that he would not punish police officers who accept cash or “gifts” from the public, especially from those who want to recognize them for their successful work.

But the police and the Civil Service Commission quickly rejected Duterte’s remarks, citing the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees which bars public officials from receiving or soliciting gifts.

However, anti-corruption Commissioner Greco Belgica told On the Record that the code of conduct provides for an exemption for gifts of “nominal or insignificant value.”

But Belgica also said the law is vague on what gifts are nominal or insignificant.

Ang feeling mo doon, ang laki naman noon ₱100,000. Eh paano kung ₱1,000? Normally magiiba ho ang disposition ng tao kapag sinabing ₱1,000. What if ₱1,000 is insignificant to you, but significant to me?” he said.

[Translation: You’ll feel that ₱100,000 is such a big amount. But what if it’s just ₱1,000? Normally, the disposition of a person would change when the amount changes to ₱1,000. What if ₱1,000 is insignificant to you, but significant to me?]

Belgica said the code of conduct for public officials and employees should be amended to make this provision clearer.