Miriam: PNP's Moscow cash may be from 'police patrons'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 17 2008 06:39 PM | Updated as of Oct 18 2008 05:15 AM

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said Friday that the cash caught by Moscow customs officials from recently-retired Philippine National Police (PNP) Director for Comptrollership Eliseo dela Paz last October 11 may have come from "police patrons."

"The source of the money should be clarified. If it is public money, then the question is, who authorized it?  If it is private money, where did it come from?" she said.
 
Santiago, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, wants the Senate to investigate why dela Paz was carrying an excessive amount of money for a PNP-sanctioned foreign trip.

"He could have deposited it to the PNP's account, if there was any, and only carry the amount needed to pay for airport fees and other expenses on their way back to the Philippines," Santiago said.
 
The senator also called for the reorganization of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) through Senate Bill No. 2269. 

She wants Napolcom to have more control over the PNP on top of its administrative and supervisory functions.
 
"It has to be given more teeth rather than just be a paper tiger," Santiago said.

Under Santiago's proposed law, the Napolcom will take full charge of PNP's operations relating to public safety.  It will also have direct influence over matters such as the PNP's budget, and the standards of appointment, performance and activities of police personnel.

PNP chief sticks to official line

Meanwhile, the PNP's new chief, director-general Jesus Versoza, in his first comments on the scandal, stuck to the official line that the nearly P7 million dela Paz was carrying was "contingency fund" for the PNP's 8-man delegation to the 77th Interpol assembly in Russia.

"They were provided for a contingency fund that may be used if ever there will be additional activities or interaction with individual countries that are represented there," Versoza said, in interview with ABS-CBN News in Pangasinan.

However, Versoza did not directly answer a question on whether government regulations allow public servants to bring contingency funds for official foreign travels and why dela Paz was carrying such a big amount of cash on their way back to the Philippines.

"It depends on the purposes because as I said, there are a lot of activities that they may be involved. As I've said, there are a lot of countries that are being represented and we maintain very close relationships with other countries," Versoza said.

PNP Director German Doria, who was with dela Paz and the rest of the PNP delegation to the Interpol conference, said he did not know that dela Paz was carrying P6.9 million in contingency funds.

"Di namin alam iyon," he said, when asked about the money.

Documents ready

In Russia, Philippine consul-general to Moscow Joselito Jimeno said dela Paz and PNP Region 9 chief, director Jaime Karingal, were scheuled to meet with Russian Customs police Friday to explain the undeclared cash.

In an interview, Jimeno said the documents which Russian customs police investigators had asked for are already ready.

Russian customs police wanted dela Paz to show proof that the 105,000 euros came from the Philippines.

Jimeno said the documents were sent to Moscow last Tuesday. These documents include a certification from the PNP that the money was official "cash advance", authority given to dela Paz to carry the amount, participation of attendance at the Interpol meeting, and authorized travel documents.

The documents were translated into Russian Wednesday. Jimeno said he hopes that with these documents, dela Paz will be able to return to the Philppines with the "contingency fund."

However, Jimeno said dela Paz and Caringal will still not be able to return immediately since their visas have already expired. He expects that the visas will be renewed over the weekend, which means the two police generals could be back in the Philippines on Monday.

No comment

Meantime, Presidential deputy spokesman Anthony Golez couldn't explain why dela Paz was allowed to leave for the Interpol conference and handle the "contingency fund" even if he would already be a retired official when he returns to the Philippines.

Golez also could not comment on whether the official who approved dela Paz's travel order should be sacked.

Malacanang simply appealed for time to let the police generals return so they can answer the many questions that need to be answered. -- Reports from LYNDA JUMILLA, GUS ABELGAS, JAY RUIZ, ABS-CBN News