Mixed Martial Arts

Pacquiao: Nothing wrong with paying for gov’t officials’ US trip

Camille Elemia
'Alam mo kaming mga Bisaya, okay lang 'yan ilibre kaysa gumawa ng kalokohan,' says Senator Manny Pacquiao

US TRIP. Senator Manny Pacquiao says there is nothing wrong with shouldering the US trip of Philippine National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa, his family, and other government officials. Photo by Wendell Alinea/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Manny Pacquiao said there is nothing wrong with shouldering the trip of some government officials who watched his boxing match in the United States.

Pacquiao said this to Senate reporters on Tuesday, November 8, two days after his victory over Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Among those who were present in Las Vegas to support Pacquiao were Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, and Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco. (LOOK: Dela Rosa attends Manny Pacquiao’s prayer service)

Pacquiao is a partymate of President Rodrigo Duterte while Dela Rosa and Aguirre are long-time allies of the latter.  Tiangco was Pacquiao’s former partymate in the United Nationalist Alliance.

It is still unclear if Pacquiao paid for Aguirre but Tiangco, for his part, told Rappler he himself paid for his trip except for the boxing match ticket and the private jet ride from Las Vegas back to Los Angeles. 

Dela Rosa admitted in a media interview that the world boxing champion fully funded his and his family’s US trip. The PNP chief said he did not spend a single centavo of his personal funds for the trip.

“’Yung ginagastos ko rito, hindi ito government funds. ‘Yung pamasahe namin, roundtrip ticket, ‘yung hotel namin ng aking pamilya, aking asawa at mga anak, may allowance pa ay personal na binibigay ‘yan sa atin ni Senator Pacquiao,” he told ABS-CBN.

(I’m not spending government funds. Our airfare, roundtrip ticket, hotel accommodation of my wife and my kids, even allowance, are paid for by Senator Pacquiao.)

‘That’s how Bisayas are’

Pacquiao said that’s just how Bisayas are – a term referring to Filipinos living in the Visayas and Mindanao who speak the Cebuano language. Pacquiao hails from General Santos City while Dela Rosa is from Davao, both in Mindanao.

“Alam mo kaming mga Bisaya, ok lang ‘yan ilibre kesa gumawa ng kalokohan. Alam mo ‘yun, kaming mga Bisaya ayaw namin kalokohan mas mabuti pa manlibre ka,” Pacquiao told reporters.

(You know us Bisaya, it’s better for us to treat someone than to do bad things. You know, us we don’t want any illegal activities so it’s better to treat others.)

Pacquiao is a member of the Senate committees on justice and human rights and public order, the two panels that investigated the spate of extrajudicial killings linked to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

The two committees are also set to probe the role of the police in the killings of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr of Leyte and Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Laws on gifts 

There are laws on gifts to public officials and employees.

Under Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, “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 implementing rules and regulations of RA 6713 provide that the following gifts can be received by government officials and employees:

  • Unsolicited gift of nominal or insignificant value not given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, a favor from a public official or employee or given after the transaction is completed, or service is rendered. (A gift of nominal value will depend on the salary of the official or employee, the frequency or infrequency of the giving, the expectation of benefits, and other similar factors.)
  • A gift from a member of his family or relative as defined in the Code on the occasion of a family celebration, and without any expectation of pecuniary gain or benefit
  • Nominal donations from persons with no regular, pending, or expected transactions with the department, office or agency with which the official or employee is connected, and without any expectation of pecuniary gain or benefits
  • Donations coming from private organizations whether local or foreign, which are considered and accepted as humanitarian and altruistic in purpose and mission
  • Donations from government to government entities

Presidential Decree No. 46 prohibits public officials and employees from receiving gifts, and private persons from giving gifts to the former on any occasion, including Christmas.

When he led the PNP,  Director General Alan Purisima was criticized after he admitted during a Senate hearing that he allowed contractors to build his official residence inside Camp Crame for free and he purchased a Toyota Land Cruiser at a huge discount. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com