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Malacañang challenges VERA Files to prove allegations, says all presents are received by gov’t

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By Genalyn Kabiling 

President Duterte does not personally receive gifts and instead passes any present to the national government, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo
(OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after challenging media group VERA Files to prove allegations that Duterte supposedly accepted cash gifts worth millions in 2014.

“Ang alam ko kapag may nagre-regalo sa kanya, pinapadiretso niya sa Office of the President [I know that whenever someone gives him a gift, he asks that it be directed to the Office of the President],” he said during a Palace press briefing.

“In other words, it will be the government of the Philippines that will receive the gift. Hindi siya, hindi personal. Hindi siya tumatanggap ng personal [Not him, not personal. He does receive it personally],” he added.

Panelo recalled that when Duterte was given a painting, the Pesident told the donor to donate it to the national government instead.

“During that presentation sabi niya [During the presentation, he said] ‘I cannot accept that, you have to donate that to the government of the Philippines,’” he said.

On the VERA Files report, Panelo said those alleging Duterte received cash gift should show proof to back their charges against the President.

“Is that true? Does he have any evidence to that effect? Ang dami nang nagsabi na si Presidente ang daming, di ba ilang daan milyon meron siya pero di naman totoo [Many claimed the President has millions in the bank but it is not true],” he said.

“One who alleges must prove. If you cannot prove, huwag ka na lang magsalita kasi naninira ka lang [If you cannot prove, don’t talk because you’re just maligning a person],” he added.

VERA Files recently released a report titled “Duterte gets gifts in multi-million pesos” written by Ellen Tordesillas. The report claimed that on Duterte’s 69th birthday on March 28, 2014, bank deposits amounting P193.7 million were made to the joint account of then Davao City Mayor as well as his daughter Sara Duterte Carpio.

Duterte previously offered to resign if it is proven he had over P40 million in his bank accounts.

Malacañang recently said policemen and other public servants should reject excessive gifts such as a house and lot from donors especially if these are given in exchange of a favor. Government personnel could only accept unsolicited gifts of small value as token of gratitude and given expecting nothing in return.

Panelo, in Monday’s press briefing, acknowledged that a P100,000 thanksgiving gift to a cop may be considered excessive.

“Hindi, P100,000 eh di hindi na nominal value yun [No, P100,000 is not a nominal value],” he said when asked if a policeman can accept such cash gift from a grateful donor.

Panelo maintained that public servants must practice “common sense” on whether or not to accept token of gratitude.

“Alam na natin kung anong nominal. Common sense will tell us kung ano ang nominal sa insignificant [We all know what is nominal. Common sense will tell us which is nominal or insignificant],” he said.

“Pag medyo sumobra dun sa common understanding, then ang court na ang magdedecide dun kung may nag file [If it exceeds the common understanding, then the court will decide if someone decides to file a case],” he said.

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