No gifts, Philippine cops told

Taking heed: Police officers listening as Duterte delivers his speech during the anniversary at the Camp Crame headquarters. — AFP

MANILA: The Philippine National Police reminded its officers that they cannot accept gifts from the public, but said it would defer to the “better wisdom” of President Duterte, who earlier said it was okay to receive gifts as long as there was no corruption involved.

In a statement on Saturday, PNP spokesman, Police Brig Gen Bernard Banac, said “we always explain to the public that there is no need to give gifts as we are just doing our job. We get paid by the Filipino people”.But Banac said “we submit to the better wisdom of our lawyer-President that it is harmless to receive gifts so long as there is no element of corruption involved and no oppression or abuse of authority is committed.”

Banac also noted that “(on) many occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas, we (PNP personnel) find that food items are delivered from anonymous senders and grateful public. So instead of letting them get spoiled, we distribute them to the inmates in cells and the barangay tanods (watchmen) and volunteers.”

Speaking at a Camp Crame programme on Friday marking the 118th anniversary of the country’s police service, Duterte said he would not begrudge police officers for accepting gifts.

“I will not stop you. If you are given (something), take it. It is not bribery.... because it is allowed by law. What I mean (is), if there’s generosity in them, according to the anti-graft law, you cannot accept gifts? Foolishness, ” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“If you’re able to solve a crime and the family would like to be generous to you or nurture a feeling of gratitude for what you accomplished, then you accept. I have nothing against that, ” he added.

Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, prohibits public officers from “directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the government and any other party, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law.”

Section 14, however, states: “Unsolicited gifts or presents of insignificant value offered or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship according to local customs or usage, shall be excepted from the provisions of this Act.” — Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network

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