Lawyers, I KNOW you are out there. I know folks previously or currently at the Office of The Solicitor General read this blog on occasion, associates and partners at some of the top law firms read this blog, and other lawyer friends of many varied backgrounds and current occupations read this blog on occasion. So please add to this discussion as I am NOT a lawyer. But as usual, it irks me that perhaps the most basic questions and issues are NOT being raised by the lawmakers, media and commentators regarding the recently reported $20,000 Le Cirque dinner.
Ninety-plus percent of my readers think the meal was inappropriate; that’s opinion. But I was curious if it was anything more than that. If it violated any specific laws. If it was possibly illegal. So I simply googled “philippine government officials laws on gifts” and got this extremely simple yet clear page entitled “Republic Act No. 6713” from the chanrobles.com website. The most relevant lines for me from this Act are, and I quote:
“(b) “Public Officials” includes elective and appointive officials and employees, permanent or temporary, whether in the career or non-career service, including military and police personnel, whether or not they receive compensation, regardless of amount.
(c) “Gift” refers to a thing or a right to dispose 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.
(d) “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 as defined in this Act, even on the occasion of a family celebration or national festivity like Christmas, if the value of the gift is neither nominal nor insignificant, or the gift is given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, a favor.”
Further down in the same Republic Act is this interesting clause, and I quote:
“(h) Simple living. â€” Public officials and employees and their families shall lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income. They shall not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form.”
So, if the dinner DID in fact occur, AND an average of PHP30,000 (which I HARDLY THINK IS CONSIDERED NOMINAL OR INSIGNIFICANT by any measure) or so was given/received in the form of food and drink by all of the government officials/guests present that evening, and it was a private not state occasion (reportedly an anniversary dinner), AND it was paid for by ANOTHER also public official (a congressman)… WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN??? Hello? Am I the only one who thinks this is all just utterly outrageous?
Sorry, I know this is a food blog, but at least the recent rants are about a meal with food and drink! :) Back to food programming soon.