The giving of gifts to public officials and employees

Its the season of gift giving again.

However, the season should not be an excuse for corruption.

Our laws on corruption made it punishable to give gifts to public officials and employees, and for them to accept such gifts.

The old Presidential Decree No. 46 made it punishable for public officials and employees to receive gifts on any occasion including Christmas.

If you are a private person dealing with public officials and employees, PD No. 46 made it also punishable for you to give gifts to them on any occasion including Christmas.

This law made it “punishable for any public official or employee, whether of the national or local governments, to receive, directly or indirectly, and for private persons to give, or offer to give, any gift, present or other valuable thing to 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. Included within the prohibition is the throwing of parties or entertainments in honor of the official or employees or his immediate relatives.”

For violation of this law, the penalty is imprisonment for not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years and perpetual disqualification from public office shall be imposed. The official or employee concerned shall likewise be subject to administrative disciplinary action and, if found guilty, shall be meted out the penalty of suspension or removal, depending on the seriousness of the offense.

Section 7(d) of RA 6713 also made it unlawful to solicit or accept gifts. This law provides that 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 or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.

The penal code as well as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) also contain similar provisions.

Corruption in any form and in any season is still corruption.  If you, or your company, or your employer give gifts to public officials and employees during Christmas, you or your company or employer are contributing to corruption in the Philippines.

If you are a public official or employee and is contemplating to accept such gifts, ask yourself whether these gifts are the ones that you will share to your family and friends during Christmas dinner or the gifts that you’d be thankful for. If the gift is a food or a food basket of goodies, ask yourself whether you want your family and children to eat what the law looks upon as fruits of corruption.

Ask yourself whether the alms received by the beggar in the street and shared with his family and children is much and way better than the gifts you received because his came from his day’s hard work without strings while yours is a corruption gift beautifully wrapped by the giver because of the favors he will ask and you may give, all in all contributing to Philippine corruption.

If you have joined rallies and marches because you were or are against corruption but you have previously given Christmas gifts to public officials and employees, ask yourself whether you have been part of the system of corruption you are against with and have contributed to the growth of corruption because of the gifts that you gave.

If you are contemplating to give gifts, ask whether you are planting another seed of tree in the corruption forest. Ask whether the relationship between those persons who might be involved in pork barrel corruption started because of gift giving leading to grant and exchange of favors.

It is the season of giving but it should not be a season of corruption. If you want to give gifts, there are many charitable institutions that will need your gifts or you can visit those in seniors home or home for the aged. If you are the public official or employee, be contended with what you have and those coming from your good labors – – then you will have a merry heart that you have not allowed yourself to be corrupted or allowed your family and children to share fruits of corruption.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.