MANILA - Even Jesus Christ preaches gratitude, the head of President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-corruption body said Monday as he defended the chief executive’s remarks that police officers should accept gifts given out of gratefulness or generosity.
Greco Belgica, a commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, explained that there is nothing wrong with government officials receiving gifts given out of gratitude or generosity, as long as givers were not coerced.
“Very clear po yung statement ni President na if the gifts are out of gratitude, these are not bribery or out of coercion or force. It is an attitude that even Christ has taught us, so it is not a crime to accept gifts out of gratefulness,” he told ANC.
Receiving gifts can only be considered as a crime if it is the goal of government officials in doing their jobs, Belgica explained.
“It’s a case to case basis. If the gift was given out of force or coercion or work that is part of his duty then it becomes graft,” he said.
Under the law, public officials and employees shall not "solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties."
While government officials can accept gifts out of gratitude, Belgica emphasized that they “should not expect anything in return for the job they are doing.”
Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde on Monday assured the public that police officers would not accept gifts with strings attached.
Albayalde said policemen are bound to follow Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
"Ang sa tingin kong sinasabi ni Pangulo ay siguro 'yung minsan kapag birthday, may nagpapadala nang pagkain na hindi naman alam o kung merong natulungan," he told radio DZMM.
(I think what the President is saying is when, for example, there's a birthday, someone will send food or if the policeman helped anyone.)
"Sa batas natin 'yung insignificant 'yung value gaya po ng mga pagkain na consumable na maliit na bagay. Pero 'yun pong malalaking bagay lalo na kapag may kapalit na pabor, bawal na bawal po 'yan."
(Under the law, policemen could accept those with insignificant value like food and other small things. But significant gifts, especially in exchange of favors, are not allowed.)