Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol is definitely one of a kind – not only because he is one of the most hardworking and visible members of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s cabinet, he is also among the most honest and stickler to rules.
Recently, while attending a dinner hosted by top officials of a ‘very large agricultural company’ whose name he did not reveal, the secretary received a small box; though he did not give importance or special significance to that box because it is part of the tradition for ‘officials of his level’ to exchange mementos and tokens [his office gives handicraft items].
It was only when he reached his farm in Kidapawan City, southern Philippines that he opened the box and was shocked to see that it was a Rolex submariner which retails for about Php450,000 in the country!
Human as he is, the thought crossed his mind that he could keep the watch – especially an expensive one that was so freely given to him – yet he also knew that there are rules he must follow as a government official. One of these rules is embodied in the “No gift policy” which applies even to him, a high-ranking official of the government.
He politely returned the watch and explained to the giver that not only was the government imposing the policy against receiving gifts, the “company is involved in activities which would require the supervision of the Department.” So, to remain impartial and fair, it is but right that he return the gift!
As part of his closing statement, the secretary declared, “Now, I can look at anybody straight in the eye and tell them that I am following President Rody Duterte’s directive that members of his Cabinet must not be linked to any act of corruption.”
Kudos to you, Sec. Manny Piñol!