PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde on Tuesday, August 13, warned his men against misinterpreting President Rodrigo Duterte's statement on receiving gifts and reminded them to adhere to their Code of Conduct.
Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, for his part, reminded police officers that they would be held criminally and administratively liable for receiving gifts under the law.
But there are some exceptions and the President must have been referring to these, Año said.
Año cited Section 14 of Republic Act 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which states that unsolicited gifts or presents of small or insignificant value offered or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship is an exception to graft and corrupt practices.
He said it was the context of President Rodrigo Duterte's statement last Friday, August 9 that it is okay for cops to accept gifts from someone who felt indebted to them.
"Although an exception is provided for in the law, may we remind our fellow workers in government, especially those in the Philippine National Police (PNP), that your services are already fully paid by the people through their taxes," Año said.
"Therefore, gifts received in exchange for favors or as a form of bribe is in direct violation of your oath of service and is a violation of law. In fact, it has been my practice in my own office that I do not accept gifts from local government officials or other functionaries and any such gift sent to my office are immediately returned to the sender," he added.
The DILG chief reiterated that police officers will be held criminally and administratively liable if they receive or solicit gifts of monetary value from people they serve or transact with in relation to their official functions.
Albayalde, meanwhile, explained that Duterte could have been referring to food items that are sent to policemen during their birthday celebrations as well as other occasions.
"Hindi po talaga maiiwasan yan at kadalasan ay hindi rin po alam kung sino ang nagpadala," said Albayalde.
(This is unavoidable and we also don't know who sends these.)
"But if it involves money and other expensive things and those who would give these gifts would ask for favor in return, then it is clearly and strictly prohibited," he added.
Albayalde also reminded the public that there is no need to give the police something in return for their good deeds as they are public servants and serving and protecting the public are part of the PNP's mandate and policemen's sworn duty.
He said all policemen should be acquainted with the Code of Conduct of government officials and employees in order for them to stay out of trouble.
Aside from graft cases, accepting gifts for cops would make them liable for administrative cases wherein the maximum penalty is dismissal from service. (SunStar Philippines)