PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday condoned the foreign trip that Philippine National Police chief Ronald De la Rosa accepted as a gift from Senator Manny Pacquiao despite the finding of the Ombudsman that it may have been a violation of corruption laws.
“I would like to send the warmest congratulations of the Filipino people and government to the senator for making us proud. And your defense of [Dela Rosa] is right,” Duterte told Senator Pacquiao, who paid a courtesy visit at Malacañang following his win.
“You donated your skill… You can afford the trip anyway. It is commensurate to your wealth. There is no criminal liability,” Duterte, a former city prosecutor, argued.
The Ombudsman recently said Dela Rosa’s all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas may be a violation of Presidential Decree 46, which makes it punishable for public officials and employees to receive gifts on any occasion; and Republic Act No. 6713, or the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.”
In the same courtesy call, Duterte jested that Pacquiao should be the next chief executive. “This is already ‘for president,’” Duterte said, while raising Pacquiao’s fist.
The PNP chief admitted in an interview at Las Vegas that Pacquiao, whose was then fighting for the World Boxing Organization welterweight title, invited him to watch his boxing match along with members of his family.
However, Dela Rosa maintained that there was nothing wrong with having the senator pay for his and his family’s trip because no public funds were used.
Pacquiao has also defended “footing the bill” for Dela Rosa’s trip, saying that it is better to treat others than do illegal activities.