Philipppine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa had recently come under fire after admitting before the media that he accepted an all-expense paid offer for him and his family to watch the recent fight of Senator Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas.
Visiting at least three laws which may become the basis for investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman, one can surmise that Dela Rosa may just get off the hook.
These are Republic Act No. 6713, an act establishing a code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees; Presidential Decree No. 46 and Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
In the case of PD 46, it is stated in the title itself that such law makes it punishable for public officials and employees to receive and for ‘private persons’ to give gifts on any occasion including Christmas when such gift, present or other valuable thing is given by reason of his official position, regardless of whether or not the same is for past favor or favors or the giver hopes or expects to receive a favor or better treatment in the future from the public official or employee concerned in the discharge of his official functions.
Now, clearly, Pacquiao is no private person being a senator of the Republic and there is no reason for him to expect favors or better treatment from Dela Rosa. He is a senator and a Filipino icon who can get favorable treatment from anybody who would be happy to do it for him without him having to give anything.
As regards to RA 6713, Section 1(c), it is stated that ‘gift’ refers to a thing or a right disposed of ‘gratuitously’, meaning, it was unearned by the receiver. Pacquiao and Dela Rosa had been friends of long standing and are even ‘compadres’, a relationship which Filipinos and Catholics, by tradition, hold sacred and in high esteem, being bound by Holy Sacraments such as baptism, confirmation and matrimony.
Section 1(d) states that ‘receiving any gift’ includes the act of accepting directly or indirectly, a gift from a person other than a member of his family or relative.… if the gift is given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, a favor from a public official or employee. Again, Pacquiao does not need favors from Dela Rosa and has not cornered any transaction with the PNP otherwise, such would have been exposed by now.
Under Section 7(d) under ‘solicitation or acceptance of gifts,’ it is stated that public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift,… favor… or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.
Similarly, RA 3019 Section 3, titled, ‘Corrupt practices of public officer’ paragraph (b) prohibits public officers from ‘directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present…or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the Government and any other party, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law. Unless Pacquiao has any such transaction with the PNP, there is nothing to talk about here. So far, none warrants guilt on the part of Dela Rosa unless there is proof that Pacquiao has any interest in any contract or transaction involving the PNP.
For as far as anyone can remember, Pacquiao had been treating friends from the private sector, government officials and even his fellow lawmakers to free trips when he fights abroad. Needless to say, most if not all of these trips also happen to be all-expense paid ones.
The essence of the laws prohibiting those from government from accepting favors or gifts is anchored on eliminating the possibility of such public officers and employees using their office or functions to extend unnecessary favors or assistance, in exchange for the gifts accepted. This scenario normally applies to private individuals gifting public officials.
In the case at hand, Pacquiao happens to be an elective official, a senator of the land and so far, the laws are silent on cases where a government official gives or receives gifts or favors from a fellow government official.
If Dela Rosa will be held liable, the Ombudsman better start running after the necks of so many others whom Pacquiao had also invited to join him in his previous fights.
As the old saying goes, ‘What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.’
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