Puno defends ex-PNP exec on Moscow mess

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno yesterday defended the former Philippine National Police comptroller who was briefly held for questioning by Russian authorities in Moscow for failing to declare the 120,000 euros he was carrying.

According to Puno, retired Director Eliseo D. dela Paz was carrying a PNP “cash advance” which is subject for liquidation.

He said that Dela Paz was a member of the official PNP delegation to the Interpol’s 77th general assembly held in St. Petersburg from Oct. 7 to 10.

“It’s a top-level meeting. Normally, the chief PNP attends those but hindi nakapunta si chief PNP (General Jesus A. Verzosa) dahil bagong induct lang siya and he wanted to concentrate on the local problems,” Puno said.

Journal Group sources theorized that the incident was blown out of proportion to embarrass the PNP leadership under Verzosa. “Imagine, reports were circulated that the PNP delegation and at least one spouse of a senior police general were caught carrying 10 million euros which is equivalent to almost P770 million. That’s absurd,” one official said.

Another described the report as “black propaganda.”

“That’s impossible. That kind of money belongs to a big bank already and you need a truck and dozens of duffle bags to carry them. Paninira lang ’yan at walang katotohanan,” the official said.

Puno said: “One thing important to remember is that it is a cash advance which is for liquidation. Ibig sabihin, that amount will be liquidated. ’Yung hindi nagamit, isosoli. At ’yung nagamit, idya-justify. Hindi naman niya personal na pera ’yun eh.”

The DILG chief said that Dela Paz encountered the problem while leaving Moscow. “Alam ninyo, nagkaproblema sila nu’ng palabas lang. Normally if you’re questioned about money that you bring anywhere, kinukwestiyon kayo papasok. When you enter a country is when you are asked how much money you have, not when you leave the country.

“Kaya siguro nakaligtaan ni Dela Paz na dapat din siyang mag-fill-up ng form. Pero wala akong alam na bansa kasi na nagpi-fill-up ka ng form kung magkano ang pera mo palabas. So, nataon lang na, I guess, somebody checked their luggage and maybe the rules are different in Russia,” Puno said.

Puno also defended Dela Paz from carrying such large amount of money.

“Alam ninyo, ’yung mga pamasahe lang, plus everything else, nasa P70,000 lang. Because a trip, for example, from Russia to here, baka doble or triple ng tiket sa America. Eh ’yung mga hotel pa,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dela Paz said he will explain his side on the Moscow incident as soon as he arrives in Manila.

“I can explain everything,” the retired 2-star police general told this reporter whom he contacted from a Moscow hotel where he is currently staying with his wife and Director and Mrs. Jaime G. Caringal, the head of the Police Regional Office 9 in Western Mindanao. Caringal is also a member of PMA Class 1976.