Senate fails to tag Euro fund source

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Senate yesterday failed to establish the real source of the P6.9 million “contingency fund” seized by Russian authorities from the retired comptroller of the Philippine National Police after he failed to show up and getting evasive answers from those who attended the probe.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, promptly directed retired Maj. Gen. Jose Balajadia, chief of the Senate Sergeant at Arms to locate and arrest retired police director, Eliseo dela Paz and his wife, Maria Fe, after their failure to attend the Senate investigation despite promising a day earlier that they would do so.

The spouse were in the company of other PNP officials, including Mrs. Cynthia Verzosa, wife of PNP Director General Jesus Versoza, attending the 77th assembly of the International Police Organization (Interpol) in St. Petersburg, Russia, when they were held at the Moscow Airport.

Russian authorities last week detained Dela Paz for failure to declare the Euro 105,000 (approximately P6.9 million) found in their baggage, which is in violation of Russian customs law. He returned to the country only last Tuesday.

Santiago, together with committee vice chairman Sen. Mar Roxas, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel, Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan and Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, rejected the motion filed by Dela Paz’s lawyer, Noel Malaya, to stop the probe on the ground that the foreign relations committee has no jurisdiction.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno told senators that he only approved the amount of P2.3 million for the six day official trip as recommended by the PNP, “subject to existing rules, laws and regulations on government fund.”

Verzosa for his part, would only go far as to say that the money was not drawn against any bank account of the PNP. “It did not come from the PNP (bank) account,” the official confirmed but refused to say where it came from.

Euro general tip of gov’t corruption

Roxas on Thursday chided President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for her inability to stamp her foot down on erring officials, a further indication of the worsening level of corruption in her government, as the Senate grilled top police officials on the so-called “Euro-general” controversy.

During the hearing, Roxas said the “Euro-general” controversy showed a cavalier attitude among top police officials regarding limits on spending and restrictions on foreign travels, adding this incident questions the ability of law enforcers to enforce the law.

He said he would file a complaint with the Department of Justice on the misuse of taxpayers’ money for foreign trips, and told DoJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez that he expected quick action on it.

PNP groups rally behind Verzosa

The Association of Chiefs of Police of the Philippines Incorporated and the PNP Retirees Association, Inc. yesterday aired their full support for Verzosa in the wake of the controversial Moscow incident.

“The recent fiasco involving top PNP officials in Moscow , Russia last week has caught in bad light the entire PNP organization, but we will not speculate nor give any comment or opinion regarding this fiasco,” said ACPPI and PRAI head, retired Deputy Director General Guillermo T. Domondon.

Domondon also called for an impartial investigation of any investigating body, saying they expect that the full force of the law shall be applied to whoever is responsible for the scandal.