Neophyte Senator and former police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa confessed yesterday that he accepted gifts such as ham and expensive clothes back when he was still working for the Philippine National Police (PNP).
His confession comes a few days after President Rodrigo Duterte stoked controversy last week by saying that cops can accept gifts and doing so is not considered bribery, a statement that would seem to directly contravene existing law (more on that in a second).
In an interview with news channel ANC yesterday, dela Rosa said he accepted gifts from people during the Christmas season.
“I admit, I accept a lot of Lacoste T-shirts during Christmas. How can I stop them [from giving them to me]? I can’t stop people from bringing fruits, Edam cheese, ham. These are brought to the office and are given in the spirit of Christmas,” he said in a combination of English and Filipino.
He also justified it by saying that gift-giving is inherently part of Filipino culture.
“It’s part of our culture as Filipinos to give gifts. There’s nothing wrong when you accept those.”
In a speech at the PNP’s headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City, Duterte said cops should accept gifts and that the law that prohibits them from doing so is considered “nonsense,” reported the Philippine Star.
However, 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.
For Senator dela Rosa, a vocal supporter of Duterte, that law is up for debate.
“That law is questionable,” he told ANC. “It’s not very clear. Very ambiguous.”
He maintained that there is a difference between accepting a gift from a suspected criminal and a citizen rewarding a cop for a job well done.
“It’s different if you’re accepting a gift from a drug lord or gambling lord. That’s not good. But if you’re accepting a gift from a good person who is happy with what you have done, there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said.
However, the current PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde said that while he respects Duterte’s controversial remarks, the police cannot accept gifts because it’s prohibited by the law, reported Rappler.
“We always explain to the public that there is no need for them to give gifts as we are just doing our job and we get paid by the Filipino people through our salaries,” Albayalde said in a statement.
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
Meanwhile, another former PNP chief and senator has slammed Duterte for encouraging policemen to accept gifts. Senator Panfilo Lacson tweeted on Saturday that “insatiable greed starts with simple, petty graft.”