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Return euros, ex-PNP comptroller told

Posted by Abi Kwok on February 4, 2009

By Abigail Kwok

MANILA, Philippines – Almost four months after the controversy involving a retired general who was intercepted in a Russian airport over undeclared euros rocked the Philippine National Police (PNP), the former police official has yet to return the money.

Because of this, the National Police Commission (Napolcom) has decided to set a deadline for retired comptroller Eliseo dela Paz to return the 105,000 euros to the PNP.

Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, concurrent Napolcom chairman, said they were giving Dela Paz until April to return the money to the PNP or he would have to pay for it himself.

“Sa amin problema nila yun, kasi hinahawakan namin ang retirement fees ni General dela Paz at [As far as we’re concerned, that’s their problem because we are holding the retirement fees of General Dela Paz and] given a reasonable period of time, we will file a collection case against him and whatever other charges,” Puno added.

Dela Paz and his wife, Maria Fe, were arrested by Russian customs officials at the airport in Moscow after they were caught in possession of millions of pesos worth of undeclared euros coming from the 77th Interpol General Assembly in St. Petersburg last October.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Dela Paz’s legal counsel Noel Malaya said they were expecting the money to be returned within the week.

But Malaya admitted that this was yet uncertain because it would still depend on his client’s Russian lawyer, Alexei Binetskiy.

Binetskiy arrived in Manila last December 2008 to transfer the euros to the PNP bank account. But Malaya revealed that one bank they approached had refused to accept the money because of its “history.”

Sometime between January 6 and 7, Binetskiy returned to Berlin while the PNP opened an account at the Land Bank of the Philippines where the money could be transferred from Binetskiy’s account.

In a previous interview, Malaya said that Russian customs officials have cleared the Dela Pazes of any charges because “there was no criminal intent. [They] concluded that the wife had no intent of smuggling and did not hide the currency she was carrying. She showed it [currency] to police officer on first request.”

Malaya said he was hopeful that the money would be returned to the PNP soon before Dela Paz could be cleared of all charges.

Asked for a reaction on Puno’s given deadline to Dela Paz, Malaya said, “If [the money] does not arrive by March, I will personally go to Berlin to get it.”

“We are optimistic that the money will be returned,” he added.


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