Palace defends Purisima despite law banning gifts

Natashya Gutierrez
Palace defends Purisima despite law banning gifts
'In our view, he answered all these questions. Whether one gives credence to those responses, it really depends on the observer,' Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda says

MANILA, Philippines – To Malacañang, embattled Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director-General Alan Purisima answered “truthfully” and with “candor” at the Senate hearing that convinced at least two senators Purisima was not being entirely honest.

On Wednesday, October 1, a day after the Senate hearing that probed Purisima’s alleged corruption and ineptitude, Malacañang again defended Purisima, even saying the public “should hand it to [him] for answering all those answers truthfully.”

“In our view, he answered all these questions. Whether one gives credence to those responses, it really depends on the observer,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.

Lacierda’s assessment is in contrast with Senator Grace Poe who led the hearing, and who said she felt that Purisima only shared “partial truth.”

The spokesperson was also mum on Purisima’s admission that the luxurious White House in the police headquarters in Camp Crame – his new official residence – was built by contractors for free.

Purisima had argued the contractors had no project with the PNP anyway. He also said he was able to purchase two of his luxury vehicles thanks to huge discounts from a dealer in Pampanga.

Asked about the donation and the discount, Lacierda said he was unsure of the policies for presidential appointees when it comes to receiving gifts, adding, “I am new in government.”

Lacierda has been President Benigno Aquino III’s spokesperson ever since he stepped into office in 2010.

According to Section 7 of Republic Act 6713, an act establishing a code of conduct for public officials, the solicitation or acceptance of gifts “directly or indirectly…in the course of their official duties” is prohibited and “declared to be unlawful.” The definition of gifts includes “anything of monetary value from any person.” (READ: PNP chief not resigning: Corrupt won’t win)

Poe said there was nothing wrong with government agencies accepting donations, but that the proper processes were not followed. She also said she thinks Purisma should take a leave of absence while the probe against him is ongoing, while Senator Serge Osmeña told Purisima directly, “I don’t believe you.”

‘Don’t judge PNP’

Lacierda said he believes Purisima answered truthfully based on the PNP chief’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

“Are there properties not in the SALN? General Purisima explained the contents of his SALN…it’s all in the SALN. All his SALNs are based on documents you can verify,” he said.

The spokesperson also believes Purisima still has the moral ascendancy to continue in his post despite the allegations, saying, he has instituted reforms in the police force. He also disagreed the controversy has affected the image or the credibility of the PNP, despite Purisima being the leader of the police.

“The performance of the police force is not measured [by Purisima]. It is unfair to judge the PNP based on Purisima [alone],” Lacierda said, adding there have been great improvements in the police force in recent years.

He reiterated that Purisima is “innocent until proven guilty,” and urged the public to delay judgment until the Office of the Ombudsman makes a decision.

There have been concerns over whether Purisima has been treated fairly, since the President has close ties to Purisima, whom he appointed top cop in 2012.

Aquino has been accused of protecting Purisima, who also served as aide of the late president Corazon Aquino, mother of the President. As a member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) then, Purisima was assigned specifically to guard the young Aquino, who would later become president too.

Earlier, Aquino also defended Purisima, saying he has known Purisima for years and has never known him to be greedy or luxurious. He had also said reforms in the police force were instituted under his leadership.

There have been recent calls for his resignation in the wake of high-profile crimes, but Aquino has consistently defended Purisima’s track record as PNP chief. He again defended Purisima last week, saying he would not be surprised if the allegations were merely unfounded attacks. – Rappler.com

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