THE problem with discretion can easily become indiscretion. The problem is he says, she says. Discretion can become indiscretion.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo continued to defend President Rodrigo Duterte, following criticisms of his remarks that police officers may accept gifts given out of gratitude, and further advised recipients to “use your discretion” in accepting such gifts.
“The law is very clear, what do you mean guidelines? You don’t need guidelines,” said Panelo.
Noting that Republic Act (RA) No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, does not specify the value or worth of the gift that a public servant can accept, Panelo said, “the law does not specify. So you use your right discretion. We have standards of what is excessive or not.”
So how much is too much? He cited a “house and lot” as being too expensive as gifts, which public servants should reject.
How about this? Admitted President Rodrigo Duterte, “When I was mayor, Pastor (Apollo Quiboloy) bought three properties. He said ‘I will buy properties for your children because if anything happens to you because of your work, if you die ...’ because I really go after the criminals here. He gave me a house at Woodridge. I didn’t accept it. And it’s there. Go to Woodridge, who bought it? It’s Pastor who paid.”
Added Duterte, Quiboloy had also given him a Nissan Safari and Ford Expedition. These items are certainly not the P100 pangkape or P500 for snacks that grateful parties give us in mediation.
On the other hand, Civil Service Commission Commissioner Aileen Lizada said there are laws that says otherwise and should be followed. RA 6713 prohibits public officials from soliciting or accepting gifts directly or indirectly. It’s something that our Sandiganbayan should look into for palpable violations of RA 2019.
However, Lizada said, Congress made some exemptions such as in the case of a gift received as a souvenir or as a mark of courtesy, scholarship, fellowship grants or medical treatments from foreign governments. Or lately, selfies that are part of social functions.
Lizada also cited Memorandum Circular No. 2016-002 of the Department of the Interior and Local Government that prohibits police officers from receiving gifts.
“Ito po ay Revised Rules of Procedure before the Administrative Disciplinary Authorities and Internal Affairs of the Philippine National Police,” Lizada said.
Under Section 1 Item 3 of the MC, it is considered as grave misconduct when cops receive a fee, gift, or other valuable things in the course of official duties or in connection therewith when such fee, gift or thing is given with the hope or expectation of receiving a favor or better treatment, Lizada said.
So from law enforcers, our cops might become lawbreakers as proposed no less than the highest officials of the land. From discretions, they can become indiscretions. And no one can tell the difference.