Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año

MANILA — Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday reminded 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.

Ano said although there were exceptions, government employees receiving gifts, particularly the Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel is a violation of their oath of service as well as the country’s laws.

“As a matter of policy, employees under the DILG, including 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,” Ano said in a statement.

He said such policy is clearly enunciated in National Police Commission Memorandum Circular 2016-002 which penalizes the act of soliciting or accepting directly or indirectly any gift of monetary value or the act of receiving for personal use of a fee, gift or other valuable thing in the course of official duties in expectation of receiving a favor or better treatment.

Ano said as stated in Section 14 of Republic Act 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, 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 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 PNP, that your services are already fully paid by the people through their taxes,” he 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 the 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.

Meanwhile, PNP chief, General Oscar Albayalde advised all police officers not to misinterpret President Duterte’s statement that it is okay for them to receive gifts from any people, particularly the wealthy and influential people.

Albayalde said there may be some misinterpretation so the PNP leadership wants to remind police officers about the Code of Conduct.

“Allow me to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on the propriety of police officers accepting gifts or token of gratitude or goodwill from well-meaning individuals,” said Albayalde on the sidelines of the National Capital Region Police Office 118th Police Service anniversary celebration at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

“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, and that these gifts are not given as a bribe,” he said. 

Albayalde said the PNP receives only gifts given as donations, properly issued with receipts and documents.

“The PNP remains to be bound by rules that govern our conduct under any given situation including existing laws against graft and corrupt practices; and the code of ethical standards for public officials,” Albayalde said.

“As a general rule there is no need to give gifts or token of gratitude for services rendered, because we are just doing our job and we are reasonably compensated for our services through our salaries, and the PNP morale and welfare policy offers appropriate recognition and acknowledgment of our services,” he said.

Albayalde said in many occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas, they find that food items are just delivered from anonymous senders and a grateful public.

Albayalde admitted accepting food as gifts during special occasions. (PNA)