DESPITE that it obviously violates the anti-graft law, President Rodrigo Duterte believes that if policemen are given money even in amounts that are not allowed by law, they should accept it as long as it is given out of the contributors’ generosity. The President said this over the weekend as he spoke before the country’s top police officials during the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) 118th anniversary at Camp Crame.
“Hindi ko kayo iipitin basta pagbinigyan kayo, eh, tanggapin n’yo. It is not bribery. It cannot be bribery because it is allowed by law. What I mean, if there is generosity in them, sabi ng anti-graft law, you cannot accept gifts? Kalokuhan yan,” the President said, saying this was not new as there are cops who already operated this way in his watch, the Davao cops.
“You, guys, from Davao know that. If you are able to solve a crime and a family would like to be generous to you or note their feelings of gratitude for what you accomplished, then by all means, accept it,” the chief executive said.
Section 3 of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, with regards to accepting gifts says:
B) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage or benefit for himself or for any other person, in connection with a contract or transaction between the government and any other part, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law;
C) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present or other pecuniary or material benefit, for himself or for another, from any person for whom public officer, in any manner or capacity has secured or obtained or will secure or obtain any government permit or license in consideration for the help given or to be given without prejudice to Section 13 of the Act.
Section 14 of the law also provides an exception on “unsolicited gifts or presents of small or insignificant value offered or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship.”
In Section 7 (paragraph D) of RA 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, also carries the same provision: The law says, “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 which in the course of his official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of his office.”
Now, the question is: Is the President’s directive in consonance with the provisions I cited above? It certainly violates the two laws. Government officials and employees are prohibited from accepting even a small token, except from their relatives for a favor. Even on reward system in solving a crime, law enforcers are exempted because it is presumably their work. If we include law enforcers in the reward system, this will encourage them to became “non-performers” precisely because they will no longer work or perform their duties if there are no rewards.
This directive will also encourage corruption, which is very much in contrast with the relentless anti-corruption campaign of this administration. Who can prevent law enforcers from demanding or extorting money from the public after they accomplish something, let’s say, in solving a crime? They will just try to make it appear that it was given by “generous donors and contributors.”
One of the Filipinos’ cultural traits is “utang na loob” or debt of gratitude. The essence of utang na loob is an obligation to appropriately repay a person who has done you a favor. The favors which elicit the Filipinos’ sense of utang na loob are typically those whose value is impossible to quantity or if there is a quantifiable value involved, of a deeply personal internal dimension. But for government employees like the police, they have their own rules to follow. If they will not follow the law, we might as well scrap it. Maayo pay ato na lang sabwan nang maong balaod.