Cop returns P100,000, declines reward offer

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SPO2 ISAGANI Ceniza counts the money that he found in a belt bag left in a taxicab and which he turned over to the Cebu City police. CHRISTINE EMILY PANTALEON/CEBU DAILY NEWS

CEBU CITY—It was a find that he could have kept and no one would have known.

SPO2 Isagani Ceniza returned a belt bag containing almost P100,000 in dollar and peso bills and jewelry left by a balikbayan inside a taxicab.

He also refused the reward money offered to him by owner Erlinda Fleming, 63, especially upon learning that she returned to Cebu from the United States to see a daughter who has cancer.

“It’s better used for her daughter’s treatment,” said Ceniza of the reward money that he politely turned down. “A smile is enough reward for me,” said the policeman.

Senior Supt. Noli Romana, chief of the Cebu City police, said Ceniza’s honesty should serve as an inspiration to others.

Fleming, who is based in Alaska, left her belt bag that contained money and other valuable items in a taxicab that she took in downtown Cebu City for Barangay Kalunasan in the afternoon of Sept. 13.

After Fleming, Ma. Gina, Ceniza’s wife, took the taxicab on Magallanes Street that  took her home in Barangay Quiot, Cebu City. Ceniza, who was waiting for his wife, was helping her unload groceries from the taxicab when the policeman noticed a belt bag lying on the cab’s floor near the passenger seat.

The couple asked driver Noel Erana if the belt bag was his. After the driver said no, Ceniza opened the belt bag and found more than $2,000 and P8,000 in cash, two gold rings, a pair of earrings and Fleming’s US passport that showed her address to be Anchorage, Alaska.

Ceniza turned over the belt bag to the Fuente police station on Osmeña Boulevard here. He didn’t stop there.

Ceniza called up radio station dyAB and made a public service announcement about finding the belt bag in a taxicab. Other radio stations picked it up and reported that the belt bag was at the police station. Fleming eventually heard the radio reports.

On Sept. 17, she went to the Fuente police station to claim the belt bag and meet Ceniza.

She commended the police officer for his honesty and tried to give him money as reward but Ceniza declined to accept it.

Fleming said she arrived in Cebu on Sept. 10 to attend to her eldest daughter who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was set to undergo chemotherapy.

According to Ceniza, seeing Fleming smile is enough reward.

A father of two daughters, aged 23 and 19, Ceniza said he turned over the money because it was not his to keep.

“If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” said Ceniza, a born-again Christian.

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