‘CONTINGENCY FUND’ ISSUE Lawmakers move to probe PNP generals

By Maila Ager, Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 16:58:00 10/20/2008

MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers in both houses of Congress set the ball rolling on Monday for the investigation of why a retired police general was caught by customs officials in Russia for carrying millions of pesos in undeclared currency.

In the Senate, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed a resolution directing the committee on foreign relations, which she chairs, to investigate the October 11 incident in which retired Philippine National Police (PNP) comptroller Eliseo dela Paz and his wife were stopped at the Moscow airport with at least P6.9 million worth of currency, way beyond the amount legally allowed travelers.

The PNP and Department of Interior and Local Government have said the money was a “contingency fund” for the top-level police delegation to the 77th Interpol assembly in St. Petersburg.

Even before she filed Senate Resolution 724 on Monday, Santiago had already scheduled for Thursday the hearing of the committee.

In the House of Representatives, Bayan Muna party list Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño filed Resolution No. 843 directing the committee on public order and safety to immediately conduct an inquiry “on the unusually large PNP contingent” to the Interpol meet from October 7 to 10.

Among those who went on the trip were police generals’ wives, including Cynthia Verzosa, wife of the PNP director general.

PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa was not a member of the PNP delegation.

Among those invited to the Santiago committee hearing are Versoza, Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, and representatives from the Bureau of Immigration, Commission on Audit, and Anti-Money Laundering Council, committee secretary Tonette Arestoza said.

In the resolution, Santiago said it is imperative for De la Paz to explain why he was carrying an “excessive” amount of cash when he could have deposited in the PNP’s account, used travel checks, or only carried the amount needed to pay for airport fees and other expenses.

“The Napolcom [National Police Commission] should also be investigated and questioned as to how De la Paz got hold of an excessive amount of money, and if such was approved by them or not,” Santiago said.

In a radio interview over the weekend, Santiago also said the travel expenses of the delegates’ wives should also be examined, including where their money came from, to determine if the trip was affordable on their incomes.

“Ipagpalagay natin na pera nila. Kung ganun, saan nila kinuha [Granting it was their money. If so, how did they earn it]?” she said in the interview. “Dapat sagutin nila [generals], saan nila nakuha ang pera e ganyan lang ang sweldo nila. Ano, lahat sila nag asawa ng milyonarya [They should answer that, where they got the money when they make only so much. What, all of them are married to millionaires]?”

In the House, Ocampo and Casiño’s resolution said: “The PNP multimillion [peso] travel contingency fund scandal is brazenly scandalous in the light of the state of the PNP. The PNP generals easily go on official travel with their spouses in tow, while police forces on the ground raise complaints that they do not have equipment, vehicles, fuel, and even their own police stations to carry out their functions.”

They also noted that the PNP delegation to the Interpol assembly “was too big, especially in these times of economic hardship faced by the country and the world.”

“The PNP could have trimmed down the delegation by half and should have followed pertinent national and international laws on travel, travel expenses, and carrying of finances,” they said.

Both said it was “highly questionable” whether the “contingency fund” for the delegation was allowed by the Commission on Audit.

The leftist lawmakers also cited an INQUIRER.net report that the National Police Commission allotted P283,512 each for the eight police officials who went to Russia, or a total of P2.3 million, way below the money found in De La Paz’s possession.

Aside from Dela Paza, the police officials who made up the delegation are Deputy Director General Emmanuel Carta, deputy chief for administration; Deputy Director General Ismael Rafanan, deputy chief for operations; Director Romeo Ricardo, directorate for plans; Director German Doria, directorate for human resources and doctrine development; Zamboanga regional director Jaime Caringal; Director Silverio Alarcio, Jr., directorate for operations; Superintendent Elmer Pellobello.

Dela Paz retired on October 9, while he was in Russia.


2 Responses to “‘CONTINGENCY FUND’ ISSUE Lawmakers move to probe PNP generals”

  1. Russian cruises Says:

    I wonder where they were bringing that money.

  2. barangayrp Says:

    hmm.. home for sure teheeee…

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