By Rommel F. Lopez

Sen. Panfilo Lacson (PNA Photo)

“Duterte OK with cops accepting ‘gifts’ out of gratitude, earning extra cash from video-karera” – Is this not graft Mr President? Pray tell, who is ignorant?”

This was Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s response to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte after the president insinuated that the senator is commenting on any issue describing him as “trying to be a crusader but ignorant”.

On Tuesday, September 10, Duterte seemingly irked by Lacson’s criticism of his statements and policies, openly criticized the policeman-turned-lawmaker for the first-time. Duterte said the senator has been commenting on a lot of issues lately. Instead of answering Lacson’s criticism, the president went on a personal attack on Lacson saying the senator is being outspoken because Lacson allegedly wants another crack at the presidency.

Duterte thinks Lacson “is running for president but I would caution him to be more circumspect,”

However, Lacson dismissed Duterte’s accusations saying the president “was exaggerating when he said that I have the penchant to comment on every issue.”

Lacson admits that aside from his tweets, he only comments on issues the he is knowledgeable about and when asked about it. He says he doesn’t comment on issues he is not familiar of. “I may not be a lawyer but I know how to read and understand the law that I read, or ask my lawyer-staff when I don’t,” he added.

The senator even said that has no plans of running for president again. “I am not even sure if I want to run for President, so I do not know what he is talking about,” he said.

Lacson said that he is one with the president in fighting corruption in government however the senator feels that he and Duterte “are not complementing each other” “there must be a problem somewhere” between him and the president about the issue of police officials receiving gifts from the public.

Duterte was reacting to the comments made by Lacson and Vice President Leni Robredo over the his comments that policemen can accept gifts given out of gratefulness or generosity of the public they served.

However, the Civil Service Commissioner Aileen Lizada urged government officials and employees to decline gifts from the public, since acceptance of gifts is a “prohibited transaction” except in 3 instances involving foreign governments, under the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. Lizada said the 3 exceptions are: gifts of nominal value given by foreign governments as a souvenir or mark of courtesy; grants like scholarship or medical treatment; and travel grant, including lodging and transportation allowance.