President Rodrigo Duterte and his special assistant, Christopher "Bong" Go, also received Rolex watches as gifts, Agriculture Sec. Manny Piñol said Friday.
Piñol, who earlier posted that he returned a P450,000-Rolex Submariner watch he received from a "very large" agricultural company, said Duterte and Go also declined to keep these gifts.
"In fact hindi lang naman ako, eh. Kinantiyawan ako ni President Duterte no'n, pero in fact siya din binigyan din siya ng Rolex. Sinauli niya din. Nauna pa siya. Si Secretary Bong Go, alam ko binigyan din ng Rolex. Pinasauli niya din," he told News to Go.
The Agriculture secretary took to Facebook last December to share that he received such gift.
Saying "who does not like to own a Rolex anyway?" Piñol admitted that he thought of keeping the watch, but decided to return it because of possible conflicts of interest and corruption allegations.
Duterte, who has repeatedly vowed a corruption-free leadership, would later tease Piñol about it, saying he could have purchased rice for the people using the gift instead of returning it.
In Friday's interview, Piñol said he was "just following the example of the President" when he refused to accept the watch.
"Hindi kami puwedeng tumanggap ng ganoong mga regalo because whether I like it or not, it would actually compromise my independence in decision-making," he said.
"Sapagkat 'pag tinanggap ko 'yon at balang-araw may hihinging pabor 'yung mga nagbigay no'n... human reaction lang naman 'yon, na kung sinong nakapagbigay ng pabor sa 'yo, bibigyan mo ng pabor in return. So I did not want to commit myself to that situation," he added. —Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/KG, GMA News