MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's acceptance of expensive gifts such as a house is a violation of the law, a lawyer said Thursday.
Duterte had said he received a house from Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ sect when he was Davao City mayor and that he would only own the house after he retires from politics.
Government officials, however, should observe a "no gifts" policy, according to Tony La Vina, former dean of the Manila-based Ateneo School of Government.
"Anything substantial di mo siya puwedeng tanggapin while nasa gobyerno ka. It doesn’t matter kahit sabihin mo na technically magiging sa'yo lang sa pagkatapos ng term mo," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(You can't accept anything substantial while you're in government. It doesn't matter if you say it will only technically be yours after your term.)
"That violates not just the spirit of the law but the law itself. Di naman sinasabi ng law na kailangan yung regalo na sayo na. Kung ang intent na sa'yo na, violation po yun ng (Anti)-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act."
(The law doesn't specify that the gift needs to be yours already. If the intent is that it's yours, it's a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.)
Duterte can face charges after his term for violating the law while Quiboloy could face complaints now as he was not criminally immune, La Vina said.
"Hindi naman ibig sabihin na kung transparent ka, tama na. 'Di lang siya puwedeng sampahan ng kaso ngayon because may immunity ang President," he said.
(Being transparent does not make it right. The President can't face charges right now because he has immunity.)
"No gifts policy dapat. Every government official, politician should have a no gifts policy."