MANILA, Philippines?The 12 retired and active police officials and three civilians involved in the case of the so-called ?euro generals? lied about the source of the money they were carrying in Moscow in 2008, according to initial findings of the Office of the Ombudsman.
It was also found that the money comprised a private fund, contrary to the officials? assertions at the Senate inquiry that the 105,000 euros (P6.9 million) seized from then Director Eliseo dela Paz at the Moscow international airport had come from the Philippine National Police?s contingency funds.
In a press conference Thursday, Assistant Ombudsman Jose de Jesus Jr. said the fact-finding probe of the agency?s Field Investigation Office (FIO) had been completed.
?[The investigation] produced a complaint affidavit that will be the basis for preliminary investigation,? De Jesus said.
?According to the transcripts of the Senate hearings, the money came from PNP funds. But the FIO found that it was a private fund belonging to Eliseo dela Paz,? he said, adding that the complaint that resulted from the FIO inquiry had been sent to another department in the Office of the Ombudsman for preliminary investigation.
Only on Wednesday, Sen. Miriam Santiago assailed the Office of the Ombudsman for the slow resolution of corruption cases despite the recommendations issued by the Senate.
Santiago said the committee reports on the scandals involving the ?euro generals,? the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, the road user?s tax scam and the scuttled National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with China?s ZTE Corp. had been pending too long with the Ombudsman.
Assistant Ombudsman Joselito Fangon, who headed the initial probe, said government records had indicated that the money found on Dela Paz was not part of the PNP?s contingency or intelligence funds, and that the police officials ?covered up? the source of the money.
Fangon said Dela Paz himself, the PNP comptroller at the time, would have to explain the provenance of the money at the preliminary investigation.
He said it was the officials? claim that they were carrying government funds that did them in.
The FIO complaint cited, apart from Dela Paz, the following PNP officials for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act: Avelino Razon (former director general), Samuel Rodriguez, Orlando Pestano, Tomas Rentoy III, Elmer Pelobello, Romeo Ricardo (former director for plans), Emmanuel Carta, Ismael Rafanan, Silverio Alarcio Jr. (former director for operations), German Doria (former director for human resources and doctrine development) and Jaime Caringal.
Razon, Pestano, Pelobello, Ricardo, Carta, Rafanan, Doria Alarcio, Caringal and Dela Paz have retired from the service.
The civilian respondents include PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa?s wife Cynthia Verzosa, Dela Paz?s wife Maria Fe dela Paz and PNP supplier Tyrone Ng Arejola.
Arejola is facing charges of falsification of public documents. He testified at the Senate inquiry that he gave Dela Paz 45,000 euros for the purchase of luxury wristwatches.
The recommended charges for Rodriguez, Pelobello, Ricardo, Carta, Rafanan, Doria, Alarcio, Caringal and Dela Paz are falsification of public documents, violation of the passport law and perjury.
PNP Director General Verzosa had earlier ordered the filing of criminal and administrative charges against Dela Paz and the other eight officials who joined a Philippine delegation to the 77th Interpol General Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia, in October 2008.
On the group?s way out of Russia, Dela Paz was detained at the Moscow international airport for carrying 105,000 euros (P6.9 million) in undeclared cash in excess of the allowable limit.
It was later revealed that Dela Paz was actually carrying P9.2 million.
On their own
The 12 officials recommended for charges by the Office of the Ombudsman are on their own, according to the PNP spokesperson, Senior Supt. Agrimero Cruz.
?The action of the ? Ombudsman will allow all concerned parties to answer all the allegations against them through their individual counteraffidavits or through their counsels,? he told reporters at Camp Crame.
Cruz also said the PNP had implemented ?stringent guidelines and control procedures? regarding the foreign trips of police personnel ?to preclude any oversight of a similar nature.?
He said all police personnel traveling abroad on an official mission must undergo a ?pre-departure orientation briefing? by the PNP Directorate for Human Resources and Doctrine Development.
The briefing includes an orientation on customs and immigration laws ?that must be properly observed in the host country to avoid embarrassment, travel delay or legal issues.?
?We need to know all these because the PNP regularly sends personnel on official missions abroad to attend cross-training sessions with foreign law enforcement agencies, short courses and expertise training programs,? Cruz said.
He said funding for the training of PNP personnel came from the host countries. As for conferences abroad, he said ?there are no funds coming from the PNP.?
?We?re doing our job?
Assistant Ombudsman De Jesus bristled at criticism that the Office of the Ombudsman was slow to resolve cases brought before it.
?Field investigation probes have no specific deadlines,? he said, adding that his office?s main concern was to ensure that complaints were investigated thoroughly.
?It saddens us to hear that we are accused of not doing our job to investigate cases as soon as possible. On the contrary, our investigators are doing their job, and doing it well,? he said.
De Jesus said he and his colleagues had no ill will toward Senator Santiago whose investigations, he pointed out, had helped uncover corruption scandals.
?Sometimes she makes our life in the Office of the Ombudsman exciting,? he said.
De Jesus said the agency had not neglected the committee reports on the corruption cases that Santiago had cited.
The investigation of the purported misuse of the road user?s tax is proceeding, according to the agency, which claimed receipt of the Senate committee report on November 2009.
Assistant Ombudsman Caesar Asuncion said the paper trail of the tax fund was being checked in collaboration with the Commission on Audit.
On the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, De Jesus said the progress of the case was slowed down by the influx of Senate reports and requests for extension of filing dates from the respondents.
?The preliminary investigation is continuing,? he said.