Truth, not only travel briefing, is the answer versus money laundering

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With the deterioration of the economy, we have learned to be frugal—- traveling abroad simply. The clothes we wear and the money we bring are scaled in terms of affordability and status. Yet there are Filipinos who insist to be flashy like the “ritzy” PNP officer who carried a “bayong” of cash to an Interpol conference in Russia.

Eliseo de la Paz, a former director and comptroller of the Philippine National Police (PNP,) traveled in style with a group of Filipino law enforcement officers in the 77th General Interpol Assemby in St. Petersburg, Russia. We didn’t know if he dressed appropriately, but he was caught bringing P6.9 million of “contingency” funds, a shameful violation of smuggling and the international money laundering law.

It was disgusting that the senior PNP law enforcer and his defenders take the incident lightly. PNP Chief Supt Nicanor Bartolome, perhaps in an attempt to dampen the corruption implications of de la Paz’ action, announced all police officers traveling abroad must undergo mandatory briefing. Did Bartolome mean de la Paz and his group didn’t have one? Wouldn’t it be routine to have pre-departure orientations for Filipinos representing the Philippines abroad?

If Bartolome’s travel orientation’s goal is to educate us about the money laundering law which allows less than $10,000 of undeclared cash during travel, his plan is practically useless. It is a duplication of what is routinely done in international airports, airplanes, and customs offices.

Everybody knows, before reaching the port of entry, flight attendants bring in forms to make sure passengers don’t commit the error of breaking the law. In the customs, passports and money declaration documents are rechecked. There is absolutely no chance that de la Paz wouldn’t know this simple travel procedure, especially if it regards to concealing huge sums of money.

De la Paz brought P6.9 million in cash way beyond what was legally allowed. A retiree from PNP service, he and his wife must not even be part of the Interpol meeting in the first place. But they were there for a reason the public must know, held by Russian authorities that their counterparts in Manila wanted to pass like a fart.

If Bartolome wants to conceal this ignominious incident under the rug as most military men do for their comrades, why doesn’t he dig into the truth about de la Paz’ P4.5 million. The PNP officer claims he brings “personal” money in a conference. What will he do with that mind-boggling sum and how did he acquire it?

Bartolome asks why the Russian authorities didn’t catch de la Paz early on. But aren’t foreign delegates of meetings accorded respect and nothing like this is imagined to happen in St. Petersburg?

There goes the rub. Another Filipino official has disgraced himself and put the name of the nation in the sewers. Alibis, cheating, and corruption have been so entrenched among our officials. Who then will believe us if we are like this? (Photo Credits: Christian Science Monitor/Bennett; Banyuhay)=0=

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Parallels in the US and Philippine Presidential Elections

“If some think we have reached the pits in our standard for electing national leaders, they better observe what is happening in the US elections. We may be “shallow” and immature as an electorate but the current US electoral pool won’t have the right to sneer at us come 2010 (if ever elections are held at all).”—MyTy (10/17/08) (Photo Credit: MarkBerry)

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