LAW EACH WEEK
Is a public official or government employee liable if he receives gifts?
A public officer who accepts a gift given by reason of his office or position can be liable under Article 211 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for Indirect Bribery. Unlike direct bribery where there is an agreement between the public officer and the giver of the gift or present, in indirect bribery, usually no such agreement exists. In indirect bribery, the officer does not need do any particular act or even promise to do an act, as it is enough that he accepts gifts offered to him by reason of his office. In other words, the gift is given in anticipation of future favor from the public officer.
Public officers or employees receiving gifts and private persons giving gifts on any occasion, including Christmas, are also liable under Presidential Decree 46, if these gifts are 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 employee or his immediate relatives.
What is the penalty in Indirect Bribery?
Under Article 221 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalties of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods (from two years, four months and one day to six years), and public censure shall be imposed upon any public officer who shall accept gifts offered to him by reason of his office.
Is acceptance of the gift necessary for the government employee to be liable?
Yes, there must be a clear intention on the part of the public officer to take the gift offered and consider the property as his own for that moment. Mere physical receipt unaccompanied by any other sign, circumstance or act to show such acceptance is not sufficient to convict the officer.
Can public employees solicit anything of monetary value in the course of their official duties?
No, Section 7 (d) of RA 6713 prohibits public officials and employees from soliciting or accepting, 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.