Euro generals

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The “Euro Generals” controversy is a case involving the unauthorized release of over 105,000 euros (Php 6.9 million) from the funds of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to Director Eliseo de la Paz in 2008.

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Details of the case

De la Paz was the disbursement officer the contingent of PNP officials delegated to attend the 77th Interpol General Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia from October 7-10. As they were about to return to the Philippines, authorities at the Moscow International Airport found that De la Paz and his wife were in possession of a sum of undeclared cash, which amounted to 105,000 euros. As this was above the allowable limit, De la Paz and his wife were detained.

De la Paz later claimed that he had advanced the excess funds from the intelligence/confidential funds of the PNP in order to buy intelligence equipment. Chief Superintendent Orlando Pestaño, Senior Superintendent Tomas Rentoy, chief of the budget division directorate for comptrollership, and Superintendent Samuel Rodriguez had released the funds. The cash advance, however, had not been duly approved by PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa, who had not gone to the Interpol Assembly.

Avelino Razon, PNP Director General until September 27, 2008, had authorized the group’s attendance of the assembly and the release of their related expenses, but said that he had only allocated Php 3.2 million for the Philippine contingent’s expenses. P2.314 million was approved by Razon for the travel expenses of the 8 PNP officers in his letter to Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno in August.

Razon approved these arrangements for the delegation to Russia on August 27. When he retired a month later, though, the assembly had not yet taken place. Verzosa, deputy chief for administration under Razon, was the one who signed the delegation’s travel authority. Upon Razon’s retirement,Verzosa then succeeded him as Director General.

Senior Superintendent Isagani Nerez, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-National Capital Region Police Office (CIDG-NCRPO) was ordered to file cases against De la Paz, Pestaño, Rentoy, and Rodriguez, but instead decided to forward the case to the Office of the Ombudsman. A hearing was set for November 15. On November 14, the day before the hearing, De la Paz formally surrendered to Senator Panfilo Lacson, who was chief of the PNP during the presidency of Joseph Estrada.

Results of the investigation

The investigation revealed that De la Paz had actually been in possession of P9.2 million, P2.9 million of which was for travel expenses and P6.9 million for contingencies. It was also found that the officials in the delegation had made side trips and flown business class.

While still in Russia, De la Paz retired on October 9. Then, soon after his return from Moscow, Region 9 police chief Jaime Caringal retired on November 5. Finally, PNP's deputy chief for administration Deputy Director General Emmanuel Carta availed of early retirement just weeks before his scheduled retirement on January 1, 2009. Of the officials in the delegation, those still in active service are Deputy Director General Ismael Rafanan, Director Romeo Ricardo, Director Silverio Alarcio Jr., Director German Doria, and Superintendent Elmer Pelobello.

De la Paz, Caringal, and Carta were included in the delegation although a memorandum on official foreign travel issued by the National Police Commission mandated that priority was to be given to officers 45 years old and below, and also to qualified candidates who lacked prior training.

No budget allocation was made for the spouses of the members of the delegation. Yet 4 wives of delegates were present on the trip. Aside from Mariafe de la Paz, Evita Caringal and Anita Carta went to Russia with their husbands. In addition, Verzosa’s wife traveled to Russia in place of her husband.

The “euro generals” returned the money they allegedly advanced but the investigation proceeded and is still underway.

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