The spokesperson of Vice President Leni Robredo recalled laws that explicitly prohibit public officials from receiving gifts following neophyte Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s admittance on receiving such when he was a cop.
Lawyer Ibarra “Barry” Gutierrez on Twitter said that Dela Rosa had committed “crimes” upon his willingness to accept gifts despite certain laws about it, namely Republic Act 6713, Presidential Decree 46 and Article 211 of the Revised Penal Code.
He shared a link of a report and commented that it should’ve been titled “Bato admits he committed crimes while PNP chief” instead of “Bato’ admits receiving gifts as a cop: ‘How do I stop them?'”
They should change the headline to “Bato admits he committed crimes while PNP chief.”
Once and for all, receiving gifts as a public official is punishable under Art 211 of the Revised Penal Code (Indirect Bribery), PD 46, and RA 6713, secs. 7(d) and 11. https://t.co/JH8vhhRlcj
— Barry Gutierrez (@barrygutierrez3) August 13, 2019
Dela Rosa previously reacted to President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks during the 118th Police Service Anniversary Celebration last August 9, where the latter said that policemen can accept gifts “if there is generosity in them.”
“If you are able to solve a crime and the family would like to be generous to you or would nurture a feeling of gratitude for what you accomplish, then by all means, accept it,” the chief executive said.
The Palace backed up his statements and added that it is not treated as a form of bribery since there is no persuasion on the gift giver’s part for the public official to do something in return.
“If you do something because it is part of your duty under the law and there were no discussions… there is nothing wrong if you are given a reward for what you did,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
Dela Rosa, following Duterte’s comments, had admitted he received gifts as a former Philippine National Police chief and cited that it is part of Filipino “culture.”
The neophyte senator said that grateful families of kidnapped victims had given him food like roasted pig or “lechon.”
There were also those who offered to replace his office equipment and repair its amenities out of gratitude to what his men have done against criminals.
But Dela Rosa admitted that friends from motorbike riding and shooting groups have given him expensive gifts such as a Lacoste shirt.
Other officials criticized him for his actions, particularly Civil Service Commissioner Aileen Lizada and Senators Ping Lacon and Kiko Pangilinan.
The former top cop defended Duterte’s remarks and mentioned that it should not be taken “out of context,” claiming it is not bribery if the gifts are given out of gratitude.
‘Public service is a reward in itself’
For Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, policemen shouldn’t receive gifts since “public service is a reward in itself.”
“May we remind our fellow workers in the government, especially those in the Philippine National Police, that your services are fully paid by the people through their taxes,” he said in a statement.
“Therefore, gifts received in exchange of favors or as a form of bribe is in direct violation of your oath of service and is a violation of law,” Año added.
He also stated that there is no specific “threshold” on whether a gift will be considered bribery or not.
“Walang threshold dun eh. It’s really the integrity and the conscience of the officials involved,” Año said in an interview.
He also cited that a memorandum circular of the National Police Commission prohibits policemen from receiving gifts, fees or valuable items directly or indirectly in the course of their duties.
What the law says
Public officials, specifically policemen are not supposed to receive gifts under certain laws.
RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees states that they must not solicit or accept any “gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value” in the course of their duties.
Presidential Decree 46 of 1972 explicitly states that public officials must not receive gifts on any occasion, regardless of whether or not the giver expects better treatment from the concerned official in return.
“Included within the prohibition is the throwing of parties or entertainments in honor of the official or employee or his immediate relatives,” it says.
Article 210 and 211 of the Revised Penal Code prohibits public officers from receiving gifts in exchange for an act as requested by a giver, whether it is criminal or not.
It also states that the person who has made offers or given gifts shall suffer the same penalty as the public official.
The National Police Commission’s Memorandum Circular 2016-002 explicitly prohibits policemen from receiving fees, gifts and other valuable things, as well as solicit any “gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value.”