'Bato' admits receiving gifts as a cop: 'How do I stop them?'

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2019 06:18 PM

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MANILA – Sen. Ronald dela Rosa on Monday admitted he received gifts when he was still a policeman, saying it was part of Filipino culture, as President Rodrigo Duterte came under fire for saying he does not consider accepting gifts given out of gratefulness as bribery.

Dela Rosa, who served as Davao City Police chief during the time of Duterte as mayor, said it was normal for him to receive gifts, especially during Christmas season.

“Inaamin ko, kapag Christmas ang dami kong natatanggap na Lacoste na T-shirt. Paano ko mapigilan ‘yan? Hindi ko mapigilan ang mga tao na maghatid ng kuwan sa opisina, iyung mga prutas, queso de bola, ham, meron dyan dumadating sa opisina,” Dela Rosa told ANC.

(I admit that every Christmas I receive so many gifts, including Lacoste T-shirts. How do I stop them? I could not stop people from bringing gifts to my office. There were fruits, queso de bola, ham.)

Dela Rosa said there were also instances where people gave gifts to policemen to thank them for their service. He cited an incident where a family of a rescued kidnap victim sent lechon (roasted pig) to the police station to thank the cops.

“It does not constitute bribery because you were not influenced to do something in his favor. The gift was given to you in the form of goodwill, through gratitude or generosity,” he said.

Dela Rosa emphasized that accepting gifts from people with questionable characters and motives was however prohibited.

“Iba naman ang tatanggap ka ng regalo galing sa drug lord or gambling lord. Hindi maganda iyon. Pero kung tatanggap ka ng regalo mula sa isang matinong tao na masaya dahil sa ginagawa mo, anong masama doon?” he said.

(It’s a different thing if you will accept gifts from a drug lord or a gambling lord. That’s not good. But if you will accept gifts from a credible person who was just appreciating your service, what’s wrong with that?)

“The spirit of the law is to avoid bribery from taking place. Anong bribery dyan? (Where’s bribery there?)”

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."

Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde on Monday assured the public that police officers would not accept gifts if these had strings attached.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former police chief who is also being looked up to by the neophyte Dela Rosa, however did not agree with Duterte’s pronouncement.

“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,” Lacson said in a tweet last Saturday.

Lacson also recalled that he "made it a point not to accept reward money from families of kidnap for ransom victims."

"...For one simple reason: I didn’t want my men to discriminate against poor complainants whom they presumed incapable of giving rewards if assisted,” Lacson said.

“I thought it was similar to accepting monthly payoffs from jueteng operators so they wouldn’t be raided and arrested. Now that I am a senator, I have refused, even returned monetary ‘incentives’ for voting in favor of franchise and tax measures from lobbyists representing business interests,” Lacson added.

Lacson said "corruption takes many forms."

"Sometimes it largely depends on the individual’s interpretation of which is a corrupt act and which is not, notwithstanding existing laws and jurisprudence," he added.