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PNP, DILG agree generals given P6.93M

Posted by Abi Kwok on October 15, 2008

 

Police say wives’ expenses ‘personal’

By Abigail Kwok, Thea Alberto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 11:58:00 10/15/2008

 

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2) After initial disagreements, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) finally agreed Tuesday afternoon that a top-level police delegation to Russia, one of whose members was held by customs officials there, had been given P6.93 million for expenses.

PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa and police spokesman Chief Superintendent Nicano Bartolome also said that the expenses of the officials’ wives who went on the Russia trip were “personal.”

Earlier in the day, Bartolome said Dela Paz had a P7.5-million (approximately 120,000 euros) “contingency fund” with him when he was stopped by Russiancustoms officials at the Moscow airport, while Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said the amount was P6.93 million (approximately 105,000 euros).

Puno also said the amount was the entire fund for the delegation, not just a contingency.

Bartolome later backtracked and agreed that the figure Puno cited was the “official amount.”

Also earlier, Puno, asked if the expenses of the four police generals’ wives, including PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa’s wife, Cynthia, was taken from the delegation funds, said: “Well, if they were members of the official delegation, yes. But I don’t think [all of them were]. You have to be a principal official to be part of it [delegation]. Besides, only four spouses were actually part of the official delegation.”

“The Interpol meeting is actually meant to be like that. General’s spouses accompany some of the delegates, but not all. There are also state functions where it involves the spouses, because you are talking of the heads of all police forces around the world. These are not unusual, this is normal,” he said.

But Bartolome said it was “impossible” for the PNP to shoulder the travel expenses of the wives. “Lagot kami sa CoA [Commission on Audit] niyan [We would get in trouble with the CoA],” he said.

Verzosa, who did not attend the Iterpol assembly, told INQUIRER.net that although their wives’ expenses were shouldered personally even if they were invited. He acknowledged he was supposed to head the delegation but had to beg off because of reported threats in the southern Philippines.

Aside from Dela Paz, the seven other police officials in the delegation were director general Emmanuel Carta, deputy chief for administration; director general Ismael Rafanan, deputy chief for operations; Romeo Ricardo, director of directorate for plans; German Doria, director for human resources and doctrine development; Zamboanga regional director Jaime Caringal; director for operations Silverio Alarcio Jr.; and Superintendent Elmer Pellobello.

DILG Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Brian Yamsuan, in a phone interview, said of the expenses of the PNP delegation was divided into P2.3 million for travel expenses — including airline tickets and hotel bookings in St. Petersburg — while the balance was the “contingency fund” for expenses incurred during the Interpol assembly.

Thus, he said, the money found on Dela Paz would likely have been worth less than P4.6 million.

Verzosa said as much, saying there was “nothing irregular” with the delegation being given a huge amount of money “because it is subject to liquidation upon return. There is a contingency fund because there will be additional expenses along with the activities” during the Interpol assembly.

Bartolome said the PNP was now transmitting all pertinent documents on the money to Russia as requested by customs officials there.

Puno said: “Basically ang naiwan sa kanya [the money left with Dela Paz] was the contingency expenses. I don’t know the exact amount [of the contingency fund], but it is not as large as people imagined. And there’s nothing irregular there because it is a PNP cash advance, subject to liquidation.”

He also belied Bartolome’s earlier statement that the police officials’ personal allowances were mixed in with the money with Dela Paz.

“Hindi totoo yan. [That’s not true] Actually what happened was because he [Dela Paz] was the disbursing officer of the group kaya napalaki yun [that is why the amount was huge]. But yung halo [na pera] na ibig sabihin, ibig sabihin [the money said to be mixed in means] it was meant for everyone in the delegation. Hindi kanya lang yun [It was not just his],” Puno said.

A copy of the travel papers of the PNP delegation obtained by INQUIRER.net showed the National Police Commission released more than P2.3 million for the officials’ travel expenses. The document was signed by Puno.

Puno explained the high costs in Russia were the reason a huge amount was given the delegation.

“You know the fare along, plus everything else, would be about P70,000 already, because a trip, for example, from Russia to here, even if you ask a travel agent, might be double or triple a ticket to America. And there are the hotels. In Europe, [costs for] hotels are easily triple [what[ we pay for here. It is really expensive. It’s really an expensive proposition and it is an Interpol meeting. Remember, that was a meeting of all the police agencies of the world. We cannot allow our delegation to go there like paupers. So they had to go there in the standard of the average police force,” Puno explained.

Pressed for comment when the news first broke, the other members of the PNP delegation refused or said they were unaware of the issue.

Bartolome explained their refusal to comment, saying only Dela Paz signed the cash advance papers for the funds and the other members of the delegation were unaware of how much money was actually given the former comptroller.

After the Interpol assembly, the delegation split up, with some of the officials going on other official or personal trips, Bartolome said. Those who went on other official trips were given allowances from the funds held by Dela Paz.

Bartolome said the P6.9 million will be properly accounted for and Dela Paz “will have to submit all pertaining documents for liquidation and disbursement.” The former comptroller has 30 days to liquidate the delegation’s expenses, he added.

He also dismissed speculation Dela Paz could easily slip through disbursement procedures since he retired last October 9.

“His remaining pay, his benefits, are all with us,” Bartolome said.

However, Bartolome admitted being unsure if Dela Paz would be returning to the country once the problem in Russia is resolved. He said the retired police general might go on “personal trips” and could not be compelled to return home.

He said Dela Paz and Zamboanga regional director Jaime Caringal are still staying at a hotel in Moscow awaiting clearance from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Puno denied reports Dela Paz was restrained at the airport.

“Dela Paz was left behind. But he’s just staying there [in Moscow]. They’re not restraining him, he is not detained. He’s in his hotel just waiting for the thing to be resolved,” Puno said.

Both Dela Paz and Caringal’s visas expired last Saturday, Bartolome explained and the PNP is working to fix this so they can safely return to the country.

Other members of the delegation had reportedly gone back to the Philippines. But in a phone interview, Carta said he was still in Beijing.

Dela Paz was held for questioning by Russian Customs officials at the Moscow Airport last October 11, INQUIRER.net learned from sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.

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