Interior Secretary Año dismisses Duterte’s opinion, says cops will be charged for accepting gifts

Members of the Philippine National Police. Photo: ABS-CBN News
Members of the Philippine National Police. Photo: ABS-CBN News

Don’t even think about it. That was the warning Interior Secretary Eduardo Año had for cops today, saying they would face criminal and administrative charges if they solicit or accept gifts from people — something President Rodrigo Duterte only days ago insinuated was perfectly fine.

In a statement that appeared today on the website of the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) — the government department responsible for overseeing the Philippine National Police (PNP) — Año said he “believes in the sanctity of the government bureaucracy as an institution for the selfless delivery of service to the people because public service is a reward in itself.”

It is in this regard that he warned all DILG employees, including cops, that they 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.”

On Friday, Duterte first stoked the controversy when he said that cops can accept gifts and doing so is not considered bribery, a statement in direct contradiction of existing law.

Read: Senator de la Rosa admits accepting gifts of Lacoste shirts, ham during cop days

Año pointed out that National Police Commission Memorandum Circular 2016-002, a memo released in 2016, prohibits cops from accepting gifts from people who may expect to receive favors or better treatment.

In a speech at the PNP’s headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City on Friday, Duterte said cops should accept gifts and that the law prohibiting them from doing so is considered “nonsense,” according to the Philippine Star.

Two days later, in an interview with GMA News, Civil Service Commission (CSC) Commissioner Aileen Lizada reacted to Duterte’s statement by pointing out that Republic Act 6713 prohibits government officials from accepting any form of gifts, favor, or anything of monetary value.

While Año said another law, Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, allows government officials to receive gifts of insignificant value as a token of gratitude, he stated that the PNP’s services are already fully paid for by citizens’ taxes.

“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,” Año said.

Año’s statement comes a day after former PNP chief and Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa confessed that he accepted gifts such as food and expensive clothes back when he was still working as a cop. De la Rosa defended his actions by saying that gift-giving is part of Filipino culture and that the law that prohibits accepting presents is “questionable.”

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