Gifts are commonplace in the commercial world. When holidays and birthdays come around, a business owner may send a bottle of wine or a fruit basket to a valued customer. But when your business's customer is the government, the gift rules are very different.
To ensure that every citizen can have complete confidence in the integrity of the government, each government official and employee is required to respect and adhere to the principles of ethical conduct set forth by law. Under the Code of Conduct And Ethical Standards For Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act 6713), government officials and employees are generally prohibited from accepting gifts from any prohibited source or gifts that are offered because of their official position. However, the training module itself says that gift-giving is a part of our culture and ...view middle of the document...
But the monetary value of the gift is not the issue. A gift given to a public servant sends the wrong message to both the donor and recipient. From the public's perspective, the gift has the appearance of being given for one of two reasons: in exchange for a favor done or in anticipation of a favor.
In Case # 4, there are other ways to acknowledge a job well done. You can still express your thanks with a call, email or letter. Having a letter from a satisfied citizen in one's personnel file means much more than a box of chocolates or an envelope of cash.
If I were in Ronnie’s shoes, I will send the envelope back to Ms. Santos with a note saying “Thank you so much for acknowledging my work. It has been my pleasure to serve you throughout the application process. As public servants, your faith in our integrity is important to us. Please know that as part of our commitment to public trust and ethics, we have a strict no-gifts policy. Your support in helping us to honor this policy will be greatly appreciated."
However, if Ms. Santos refuses to be given the envelope back to her and once again left it in my room, I have no choice but just to accept it. It may insult her if I send it back to her again. Besides, I already made it clear to her that it is prohibited for public servants to accept gifts from outside so next time I see her, I will tell her that I am very much grateful to the fact that she appreciated my job well done and a simple call, email or letter is much more appreciated than any gifts.
Government employees may not use any of the gift exceptions to accept gifts from the same (or even different sources) so frequently that a reasonable person would believe they are using their public office for private gain. It is never inappropriate...and frequently might be prudent...for an employee to decline a gift, even if permissible under one of the exemptions.