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Año says public service ‘its own reward’

MANILA, Philippines — Amid the debate over the morality of police accepting gifts and gratuities, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday maintained that selfless public service should be its own reward.

“The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) believes in the sanctity of the government bureaucracy as an institution for the selfless delivery of service to the people because public service is a reward in itself,” Año said in a statement.

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However, should unsolicited and unconditional gifts be given to Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel, Año said he allows acceptance provided they are of small or insignificant value.

Personally, he said, he has always refused gifts sent to his office, with the items being returned to their senders.

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But while all DILG employees “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,” Año said Philippine laws “are not unmindful of the Filipino culture of showing appreciation toward those who help us, including public servants.”

He said Republic Act No. 3019 or the Antigraft and Corrupt Practices Act allows public servants to accept unsolicited gifts of small or insignificant value given as tokens of gratitude or friendship.

“It is in this context that the President’s statement must be appreciated as explained by the chief presidential legal counsel (Salvador Panelo),” Año said.

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For his part, PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said he submits to the “better wisdom” of the President “that it is harmless to receive gifts so long as there is no element of corruption involved and no oppression or abuse of authority is committed, and that these gifts are not given as bribe.”

In a statement on the sidelines of the 118th police service anniversary at the National Capital Region Police Office in Taguig City on Tuesday, the official said the PNP receives only gifts given as donations and properly issued with receipts and documents, as it abides by the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

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