MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday threatened to file charges against police officers who will accept or solicit gifts from the public in relation to their official duties.
“As a matter of policy, employees under the DILG, including police officers, will be held criminally and administratively liable if they receive or solicit gifts of monetary value from people they serve or transact with in relation to their official functions,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement.
Año said such policy is stated in the National Police Commission Memorandum Circular 2016-002 which penalizes the act of soliciting or accepting directly or indirectly any gift of monetary value or the act of receiving for personal use of a fee, gift or other valuable thing in the course of official duties in expectation of receiving a favor or better treatment.
The DILG chief made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte made a remark last week saying there is nothing wrong with receiving rewards if it was done out of gratitude and generosity.
Año acknowledged the president’s remark as stated in Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices act, but he emphasized that these gifts are only acceptable if these are small or of insignificant value or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship.
“Our laws are not unmindful of the Filipino culture of showing their appreciation towards those who help us, including public servants. It is in this context that the President’s statement must be appreciated as explained by the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel,” he said.
The DILG chief said that although an exception is provided for in the law, he still reminded police officers and other government workers that their “services are already fully paid by the people through their taxes.”
“Therefore, gifts received in exchange for favors or as a form of bribe is in direct violation of your oath of service and is a violation of the law,” he said.
He added that it has been the practice of his office to send back to the sender or refuse gifts from local government officials or other functionaries.
Año also assured that the DILG will be relentless in its pursuit to build a corruption-free police organization that is “worthy of the trust and confidence of the Filipino people.”