AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Wednesday said he rejected a gift box containing a P450,000 worth of Rolex watch given to him during the dinner given by top officials of a very large agricultural company, citing the government’s “no-gift policy.”
“It’s the season of giving, but sorry we can’t receive,” Piñol said, describing how he resisted temptation in a social media post.
“Who does not like to own a Rolex anyway?” he asked.
“However, the realization that accepting such an expensive gift would be a violation of the law made me decide to return it to the sender but I did so respectfully.”
Piñol explained he could not take the gift “not only because the company is involved in activities which would require the supervision of the department which I head but also because the law prohibits officials like me from accepting expensive gifts.”
“I added I could go to jail if I was found to have kept the watch or accepted expensive gifts from people with interests in the Department of Agriculture,” the agri chief said.
The gift, a Rolex submariner, was given to him “along with the other mementos which I usually receive during ceremonial exchange of gifts.”
“It was not until I was in my farm in Kidapawan City, when I decided to open the box and I almost fell off my seat when I saw what was inside the box,” he said.
“It was a Rolex submariner, a watch which almost every man dreams of owning.”
Pinol said he owns an old Rolex Oyster Perpetual given to him by a late friend, Bening Urquico, before he entered politics in 1995 but he seldom uses it because he is not fond of wearing jewelry.
“Besides, it is so old that it spends more time in the repair shop than on my wrist.”
“When I checked its price in the internet, I found out that the watch had a value of about P450,000 and I would be lying if I say that the thought of keeping it did not cross my mind,” he said.
Recently, PNP chief Roland “Bato” dela Rosa was placed under scrutiny after admitting receiving “gifts” from Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao for an all-expense paid trip for him to watch his fight at Las Vegas.
Pinol said he felt relief after returning the item.
“When I turned over the box to the giver, whose identity I will not divulge anymore, I felt as if a huge burden was taken off my back,” he said.
“I know it is Christmas but for us in government, there must be a careful discernment on what kind of Christmas presents we could receive and from whom.”