Euro garapals | Inquirer News

Euro garapals

/ 06:52 AM April 04, 2013

Easter Monday greeted us with reports that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered the filing of criminal charges against the so-called “Euro Generals” before the Sandiganbayan.

The Ombudsman’s 86-page resolution dated March 26, 2013 ordered the filing of graft and violation of Revised Penal Code charges against retired Director Gen. Eliseo dela Paz, Deputy Director Generals Emmanuel Carta and Ismael Rafanan, Director Romeo Ricardo, Director German Doria, Director Jaime Caringal, Chief Supt. Orlando Pestaño, Chief Supt. Tomas Rentoy III and Senior Supt. Samuel Rodriguez.

The cases stemmed from their trip to St. Petersburg, Russia in 2008 to attend the 77th International Police convention. While heading back to Manila after four days, Russian customs authorities caught a member of the Philippine delegation, then Philippine National Police (PNP) comptroller Eliseo de la Paz with undeclared cash amounting to 105,000 euros or P6.9 million.


At the helm of the PNP then was Director Gen. Jesus Versoza who did not join the group although his wife and spouses of other police generals tagged along.


The scandal prompted the Senate to conduct a probe that subsequently recommended the prosecution of then Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, the PNP leadership and its Interpol delegation for the illegal travel and unexplained release of a P6.9-million cash advance. That would come out now as erroneous detail since according to the Ombudsman’s investigation, the questionable release amounted to P10 million.

Because the Senate recommendation directed the PNP to file charges against the euro-generals, the scandal went from sordid to absurd. But the bigger insult for the Senate came from the Department of Interior and Local Government legal department which disputed the Senate findings and defended the euro-generals.

As if the affront was not enough, then PNP chief Jesus Versoza said the police cannot immediately file cases because the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group or CIDG was still “collating evidence.” Pagka wa gyuy puangod, as Cebuanos are wont to say. The evidence was right in front of his nose but he chose to ignore it.

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Ombudsman Carpio-Morales’ resolution raised two significant issues on which the argument of probable cause strongly rest.

Number one, there is a regulation called the Austerity Law that bars all foreign trips by government officials except in cases where the hosts shoulder expenses. There is also a law that prohibits trips for officials within a year of leaving the service.


Ricardo, Carta, Rafanan, Doria, Caringal, and Dela Paz were all nearing retirement when they joined the Interpol conference. Ricardo, despite the fact that he was about to retire and therefore barred by law from leaving, signed his own travel order and that of the other police generals, who like him were also to retire that year. This is a gross violation of Article 237 of the Revised Penal Code (on Prolonging the Performance of Duties and Powers), as pointed out by the Ombudsman resolution.

Number two, the unauthorized trip to Russia generated the release of some P10 million in PNP funds earmarked for intelligence gathering, indicating massive abuse and collusion among high ranking police officials.

When Russian customs authorities caught De la Paz in possession of undeclared euros, he and the rest of the Philippines delegation had spent four days attending discussions, together with foreign counterparts, on the need to increase cooperation among Interpol’s 186 member countries to combat various forms of transnational crimes, like cyber security, transnational threats, illegal drugs, human trafficking, terrorist financing and smuggling of currencies.

Having police officials commit the very crimes they swear to eliminate, in a foreign country at that, after a historic meeting with other security defenders, demonstrates the euro generals’ appalling disregard for law and order.

Cases of stealing government money abound in a number of state agencies but this particular case will not be easily forgotten for sheer garapalan.

* * *

By the way, one of the respondents is former Senior Supt. Tomas Rentoy, who served as chief of the budget division when the euro scandal erupted. Despite facing charges before the Ombudsman Rentoy earned his first star in 2010. His current police ranking is chief superintendent, equivalent to brigadier general in the military.

It’s not clear whether President Benigno Aquino III knew that Rentoy was implicated in the euro scandal. I think his name may have been “buried” in the list of senior police officials that P-Noy promoted less than three months after he won the presidency.

In any case, Rentoy was not able to escape media attention after he got promoted because the Inquirer’s Alcuin Papa wrote about it on September 05, 2010. The story prompted a reaction from then PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Agrimero Cruz who ably shielded Rentoy by citing RA 9708.

The law provides that the “institution of a criminal action or complaint against a police officer shall not be a bar to promotion,” Cruz stressed. Indeed, at the time the case was still languishing in the Ombudsman.

But the same law says, “establishment of probable cause can make an officer ineligible for promotion.” Cruz then went on record saying, “Rentoy’s promotion can be recalled if probable cause should be established.”

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Tan-awon ta if PNP Chief Director General Alan Purisima will take the necessary action.


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