Gov't workers warned against soliciting Christmas gifts

By Michael Punongbayan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 15 2012 09:20 AM | Updated as of Dec 15 2012 05:20 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Government workers should not solicit or accept gifts in exchange for favors during the holiday season.

Civil Service Commission (CSC) chairman Francisco Duque III issued this reminder, saying erring government employees may be dismissed from the service even on the first offense. He cited those accepting gifts from clients, suppliers and contractors.

“Gifts may be construed as a bribe or reward in exchange for a favor or better treatment. Serving the public is our duty and we must give the best possible service without expecting anything in return,” Duque said.

Duque said Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees prohibits civil servants from soliciting or accepting gifts, favors, loans or anything of monetary value in the course of their official duties.

Under RA 6713, a gift is deemed proper or improper depending on its value, the relationship between the giver and the receiver and the intent. Something of monetary value is “one which is evidently or manifestly excessive by its very nature.”

Only gifts from family members given without expectation of pecuniary benefit; those coming from persons with no regular, pending or expected transactions with the government office where the receiver belongs; those from private organizations given with humanitarian and altruistic intent; and those donated by one government entity to another are not prohibited.

Duque also called on all government agencies to provide continuous, high-quality service amid Christmas parties and other yearend activities.

“Christmas is the season of gift-giving and the best gift we can give to the Filipino public is the promise of excellent and honest public service not only this holiday season but onwards,” he said.

The CSC chief said government offices may implement appropriate strategies, such as shifting schedules, to ensure that the public is consistently served within the prescribed government working hours.

“Even if Christmas parties are scheduled during lunch break, the law says that there should be no interruption in service,” he said.

Duque said RA 9485, also known as the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, provides that “heads of offices and agencies which render frontline services shall adopt appropriate working schedules to ensure that all clients who are within their premises prior to the end of official working hours are attended to and served even during lunch break and after regular working hours.”