THE nine “Euro Generals” are now facing the court after the Office of the Ombudsman formally lodged nine cases before the Sandiganbayan, six years after the scandal broke.
The Ombudsman now elevated the cases of nine former police officers at the anti-graft court in the scandal that involved the release of multi-million European notes, which was intercepted at a Russian airport in October 2008.
In nine separate charge sheets lodged at the dockets of the Sandiganbayan, former police comptroller Eliseo dela Paz is facing five counts of graft and three counts of illegal use of public fund, together with eight other uniformed officials.
Dela Paz, together with his wife Maria Fe, is facing these charges on top of violation of banking law and prolonging performance of duties and powers, which is penalized under Article 237 of the Revised Penal Code.
Along with dela Paz, police chief superintendent Orlando Pestaño, police senior superintendent Tomas Rentoy 3rd, and police superintendent Samuel Rodriguez are also facing four graft and three illegal use of public fund cases.
Police director Romeo Ricardo are facing two counts of graft, while police deputy director generals Emmanuel Carta and Ismael Rafanan and police directors German Doria and Jaime Caringal are facing one graft case each.
The case stemmed when cash was discovered after dela Paz was intercepted at the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow on October 11, 2008 after 105,000 euros was found in his keeping.
At that time, dela Paz was attending the 77th Interpol General Assembly in St. Petersburg.
According to public prosecutors, the P10 million was sourced from the confidential and intelligence funds of the Philippine National Police (PNP), which was appropriated to the police force by virtue of the 2008 General Appropriations Act.
However, this was released as travel allowance and contingency fund of the police delegates, which, the Ombudsman said, is prohibited under the penal code.
The mere approval of the police officers to release the P10 million was tantamount to graft charges.
In its resolution, the Ombudsman said that it is “undeniable” that all of the police officers knew that the cash were taken from the intelligence fund of the Philippine National Police.
“[The intel fund is] specifically appropriated by law for the confidential intelligence and counter-intelligence activities of the PNP for year 2008,” the resolution read.
“Yet, [the accused]still proceeded and/or allowed the use thereof for the travel and contingency expenses of the PNP delegation to Russia,” the Ombudsman observed.
Because of this, criminal liabilities “are present” when the public fund, which was appropriated by law, has been disbursed “for another purpose different from which they were originally intended.”
The Ombudsman ruled that “there is probable cause” to hold the accused liable for the offenses slapped against them.
For provisional liberty, each accused is ordered to pay P30,000 for each graft count and P6,000 for each illegal use of public fund count.
The raffle of the nine cases to an anti-graft court division will be held today.
JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON