Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Is a discounted Toyota Prado considered as gift to PNP chief Alan Purisima?

There is a law penalizing government employees and officials from receiving "gifts" while in office. Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima admitted during the Senate hearing conducted by Senator Grace Poe that he did receive a donation of 11 million pesos from his friends from the construction industry.

Is a "donation" different from a "gift" as contemplated in Republic Act no. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act? No, a donation can actually considered as a gift. Is it illegal to accept "donations"? Not exactly, since as what Purisima said, the donation went straight to the PNP.

What the law punishes is when the government official benefitted from the "gift" given to him. In the donation, Purisima did not benefit directly hence, not punishable.

What about the "discounts" Purisima got when he purchased a Toyota Prado worth P4 million but paid only P 1.4 million? Section 3 (c) says, and I quote this in toto:

(c) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present or other pecuniary or material benefit, for himself or for another, from any person for whom the public officer, in any manner or capacity, has secured or obtained, or will secure or obtain, any Government permit or license, in consideration for the help given or to be given, without prejudice to Section thirteen of this Act.

"Discounts" can actually be interpreted as "gift" as contemplated in Republic Act 6713, section 3 (c) which defines "gifts" as:

(c) "Gift" refers to a thing or a right disposed of gratuitously, or any act or liberality, in favor of another who accepts it, and shall include a simulated sale or an ostensibly onerous disposition thereof. It shall not include an unsolicited gift of nominal or insignificant value not given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, a favor from a public official or employee.

Now, discounts on the sale of a luxury vehicle, are considered as "gifts"? If the discount can be considered an "act or liberality, in favor of another who accepts it", then discounts are punishable under this law.

It can even be said to be a "simulated sale", since the discounts actually exceed the actual price. The discount given to Purisima was 2.6 million, even more than the amount paid which is 1.4 million. The actual price of the vehicle was 4 million pesos.

Did Purisima benefitted from the sale directly and personally? Yes.

Now, there is another element to this--there must be a favor which Purisima gave to his friend, a car dealer for this "discount" to be considered punishable under the law.

There must be a piece of evidence which suggests that this sale was immediately after an event which the person who gave the discount benefitted.

This is one thing which prosecutors are looking into.

More than the legality of all these things is the fact that this is already causing demoralization among the police ranks.

It seems that the PNP has lost its "puri" or dignity due to "sama" or bad acts of its Chief.