Inside out

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SAYS DELA PAZ: 45,000 euros for friend’s pricey watch

Posted by Abi Kwok on November 16, 2008

By Abigail Kwok
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 23:01:00 11/15/2008

 

MANILA, Philippines — “Family friend” businessman Tyrone Ng Arejola said it was partly his fault that retired police comptroller Eliseo Dela Paz was caught with more than the allowed euros in Moscow without declaring the money to local authorities.

In his testimony at Saturday’s Senate hearing on the multimillion-peso worth of euros confiscated by Russian authorities from Dela Paz, Arejola said he gave the retired police official 45,000 euros (about $57,000 or P2.9 million) to buy a pricey watch for him (Arejola) in Vienna, where a dealer was waiting for the payment.

Dela Paz described Arejola, 35, as a “family friend” and a church-mate, being both Born Again Christians.

Arejola, who reportedly has shares in Beverly Hills Cosmetic Clinic, Congo Grille chain of restaurants, and other trading firms, said his money was part of the funds that Russian authorities seized from De la Paz as he was leaving the Moscow airport last month.

Describing himself as a collector of watches, Arejola said that when he found out that Dela Paz was going to Europe, he asked the police official to buy either a “Roger Dubuis Bi Retro” watch or an “IWC Portuguese Chronowatch” in Vienna.

Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II was shocked by the price of the watch.

“So 45,000 euros…Parang ang bigat suotin po nyan eh. Parang bahay na po yan. Yung akin Timex ah, $30. Personal na pera niyo yan kaya wala akong masabi (That would be quite heavy to wear. That’s like a house. My watch is a Timex, worth $30. In any case, that’s your personal money so I cannot say much),” he said.

Arejola said De la Paz’s family would also ask him to buy things for them whenever he traveled.

“As far as I can remember, pag pumupunta ako ng (when I go to) Hong Kong, si Ma’m Mia nagpapabili sa kin ng mga gamit ng bata kasi yung anak ko (would ask me to buy clothes for her daughter because my own daughter), she’s 12 years old now, and yung anak niya (their daughter), who is 12 years old as well, magkaibigan, magka-size ng damit (are friends and wear the same size clothes),” he said.

On further questioning, Arejola admitted that one of his companies, Enviroair, is a contractor for the Philippine National Police, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Land Transportation Office (LTO), and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC). 

The businessman revealed that in 2006, the PNP awarded his company with a series of contracts worth “more or less P90 million” for the supply of civil disturbance management equipment.

But Arejola stressed that the government contracts he won underwent proper bidding procedures.

He admitted that dealing with government requires that one can afford to invest on the required supplies because there is no down payment.

When Roxas pointed out that having a good relationship with the comptroller who will prioritize the payments is a huge factor, Arejola said, “Mahalaga ho na kaibigan natin lahat (It’s important that everyone is a friend).”

In a separate interview, Roxas questioned Dela Paz and Arejola’s relationship, which he described as “bahagi ng larawan sa kalakaran ng PNP (part of how PNP is run).”

He also sought to dispel suspicions that Dela Paz had a hand in the bidding process.

“General Dela Paz was not in the bids and awards committee when I got the contract,” he stressed.

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