Bribery and Corruption of Public Officials-A A +A
By Kelvin Lee
Question of Law
Thursday, March 7, 2013
ONE often ignored crime is that of bribery and corruption of public officials. As seen in a recent news report, one Japanese national was supposedly caught committing this crime.
According to news reports, this Japanese national was arrested for car theft by NBI agents. He then proceeded to try and bribe them for his release, and offered P1.5 million pesos. The NBI agents did not take the bribe, and instead subjected the Japanese nationals to additional charges of corruption of public officials.
In my opinion, these NBI agents deserve congratulations and recognition for choosing to ignore the bribe money and continuing with their functions as law enforcers.
Now, if the NBI agents had accepted the bribe money to let the Japanese national go, these agents could have been punished under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code:
Article 210. Direct bribery. - Any public officer who shall agree to perform an act constituting a crime, in connection with the performance of this official duties, in consideration of any offer, promise, gift or present received by such officer, personally or through the mediation of another, shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium and maximum periods and a fine of not less than the value of the gift and] not less than three times the value of the gift in addition to the penalty corresponding to the crime agreed upon, if the same shall have been committed.
If the gift was accepted by the officer in consideration of the execution of an act which does not constitute a crime, and the officer executed said act, he shall suffer the same penalty provided in the preceding paragraph; and if said act shall not have been accomplished, the officer shall suffer the penalties of prision correccional, in its medium period and a fine of not less than twice the value of such gift.
The Supreme Court has enumerated the elements for this crime: “The four essential elements of the crime of direct bribery are: (1) that the accused is a public officer within the scope of article 203 of the Revised Penal Code; (2) that the accused received by himself or thru another; some gift or present, offer or promise; (3) that such gift, present or promise has been given in consideration of his commission of some crime or any act not constituting a crime; and (4) that the crime or act relates to the exercise of the functions of the public officer” (Maniego v. People, G.R. No. L-2971. April 20, 1951).
On the part of the Japanese national, he can be punished under Article 212 of the Revised Penal Code, which makes it a crime to corrupt public officers:
Article 212. Corruption of public officials. - The same penalties imposed upon the officer corrupted, except those of disqualification and suspension, shall be imposed upon any person who shall have made the offers or promises or given the gifts or presents as described in the preceding articles.
Please take note that public officials has been construed by the Supreme Court to include any person "who, by direct provision of law, popular election or appointment by competent authority, shall take part in the performance of public functions in the Philippine Government, or shall perform in said government or any of its branches, public duties as an employee, agent or subordinate official or any rank or class." That definition is quite comprehensive, embracing as it does, every public servant from the highest to the lowest.” (Maniego, Id.)
This definition of public officials can include even traffic enforcers. As such, I would recommend people being more careful in their dealings with traffic enforcers in relation to traffic violations. If one is not careful, one may have already committed corruption of public officials.
The opinions expressed herein are Atty. Kelvin’s own. You can reach Kelvin through his office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 07, 2013.