Malacañang Sunday defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark that policemen might accept gifts if these are given out of generosity or gratitude, saying it does not go against the code of conduct for government personnel.
Duterte drew flak last Friday after he told law enforcers that giving gifts given out of gratitude or generosity is not bribery.
Critics noted that government personnel is bound by Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Under the law, 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 in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.”
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, said there is bribery if a gift is given to persuade a government worker to do something in return.
“The president is right. Bribery comes in if you agree to receive something because you will be doing something for the other party,” Panelo said in a radio interview.
“But 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,” he added.
Panelo also disagreed with senator and former police chief Panfilo Lacson, who reminded Duterte that insatiable greed “starts with simple, petty graft” and “could be more addicting than drugs.”
Mr President, insatiable greed starts with simple, petty graft. It could be more addicting than drugs. There is no detox, nor is there rehab facility available for addiction to money.
— PING LACSON (@iampinglacson) August 10, 2019
Panelo said what is addicting is getting away with small illegal acts, not the receiving of rewards given out of gratitude. He cited as an example the giving of tokens to government personnel to secure a license.
“If you get what you want and you get away with it, that will become an addiction. If you get away with small things, you would do it again,” the presidential spokesman said.
“But if you are given a reward, that will even inspire you to perform things because you did not ask for it. You will become more diligent because many appreciate you,” he added.
Panelo also justified Duterte’s statement that he would tolerate police officials being involved in video karera operations as long as they stay away from the drug trade. Video karera or horse racing video game is a form of illegal gambling.
“Involvement in drugs is different. Drugs destroy families. It affects the entire body and soul of an addict. With regard to video karera, he derives pleasure from doing that,” Panelo said.
Panelo also stressed that Duterte would only resume the operations of Small Town Lottery if there is an assurance that it is free of corruption. Duterte ordered the closure of the STL because of the operators’ supposed failure to remit revenues to the government.