After being caught and held for illegal possession of travel money in Moscow, Russia, during the 77th Interpol Meeting in St. Petersburg, retired Gen. Eliseo de la Paz, his wife Maria Fe, and Philippine National Police (PNP) officers and their respective wives, are eagerly awaited to return home. They need to shed light to the humiliating detention they suffered stemming from the undeclared amount of P6.9 million (105,000 euros.) Airing the befuddled mind of the public, the Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago angrily declared:
“I-subpoena decus tecum ko silang lahat. Ibigay nila ang mga papeles nila. Sino ang nag-authorize niyan? Ngayon kung hindi iyan duly authorized, saan nila kinuha ang pera? Saan nila kinuha ang pera para gumastos lahat ng asawa nila? Magkano ba mga sweldo nila?” Santiago told radio dzBB’s Nimfa Ravelo in an interview. GMANewsTV (10/19/08, See, AB)
The flamboyant Sen. Santiago, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, sounds funny again, but the truth of this incident rests on the questions she raises. It is a shame the PNP officers wear “service, honor & justice” on their badges not unlike the military pins of the disgraced Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia who stole incredible amounts of money from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP.)
Some of de la Paz’ defenders are saying there is nothing irregular with bringing 105,000 euros as though it is OK to carry them without customs approval. They speak of “contingency funds” that make them look more suspicious. Where did they get that much money?
If justice works well in the Philippines and corruption isn’t as rampant, this case of illegally transporting huge money abroad has all the tell-tale signs of a crime(s). Ironically, they went to that interpol conference to learn more ways of upholding laws, not of violating them. (see my related blogs entitled “Truth, not only travel briefing, is the answer versus money laundering”(10/17/2008) and “Malabong paliwanag sa bayong-bayong na pera sa airport” (10/16/2008.)
But as usual, one wonders if investigations that probe the PNP officers will just be another side diversion—a dizzying “zarzuela,” displaying the corruptive influence of money on those tasked to serve the people. There surely will be layers of alibis, legalese, and lame defenses to dodge accountability. The kid-glove treatment of erring government men in power often mocks the sensibility of the public and painfully deepens the despair of the nation. That’s why many frustrated Filipinos are cynical with regards to the outcome of cases of this nature. (Photo Credits: Ignacio Guerra; http://www.bardu.net) =0=“