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Rebel without a clue
In the line of duty

By Patricia Evangelista
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:46:00 10/26/2008

Filed Under: Police, Crime, Laws

THIS is what happened one night in October.

Thirty-year-old Central Bank employee Ivy Maria Cinco was walking down the parking lot of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. along Roxas Boulevard at the corner of Dr. Quintos Street. It was 2:30 in the morning when a man on a motorcycle swung past Cinco and her 51-year-old companion Bruce Miller. Cinco said the man attempted to grab her bag. The bag contained over P30,000 in cash and valuables. Miller and Cinco wrestled for the bag. There was shouting, and grappling, and the pounding footsteps of Pagcor?s security guards. The man on the motorcycle was arrested; his 9mm service pistol was confiscated. His name is Abraham Mamicao, police officer 2 from Lardizabal Street in Sampaloc, currently assigned to the Manila Police District Station 9.

He now faces criminal and administrative charges.

This is what happened when retired PNP comptroller Eliseo de la Paz was caught by the Russian authorities for failing to declare P6.9 million worth of euros in his carry-on luggage as he was leaving for Warsaw. Director Jaime Caringal, who with his wife stayed in a Moscow hotel as Philippine Embassy officials rushed the processing of necessary documents, said there was no intention of hiding the money; that it was authorized money and ?the PNP will explain it.?

Officials in Manila scrambled to explain the multimillion-peso travel allowance of a Philippine police delegation for a six-day trip at a time when thousands are losing jobs by the day. Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said that they assured Russian authorities that the money actually came from the Philippines, and that there are papers to prove it. He said he didn?t know the exact amount, but that there?s nothing irregular. PNP information head Chief Supt. Nicanor Bartolome said that the travel allowance covered all official spending and a contingency fund ?that covered a wide range of possible expenses? in the high-level meeting. In the Senate inquiry, neither Puno nor PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa could explain the origin of the money found with De la Paz, which was not withdrawn from any local bank with a PNP account, in spite of all their previous?and contradicting?public reassurances.

De la Paz, in spite of his earlier claims of having nothing to hide and his intentions of testifying before the Senate, did not appear at the Senate inquiry. He violated Administrative Order 103, issued on Aug. 31, 2004, which bars all foreign travel not covered by grants, except for ministerial meetings. He violated the General Appropriations Act barring government officials and employees to attend foreign training or conferences if they are due to retire within one year?although Puno says there is nothing irregular about sending De la Paz or any of the six others set to retire next year?to the 77th Interpol general assembly in St. Petersburg.

De la Paz has not been arrested; he has not been jailed, and is not at the moment facing administrative or criminal charges.

* * *

This is what happened one night in May. Five men boarded a passenger Nissan Urvan at 7 p.m. by the Metro Rail Transit Station on Quezon Avenue. In Novaliches, the five men pulled out handguns and announced a heist. The 38-year-old driver pulled over as one of the suspects commandeered the vehicle. The driver was told to sit at one of the back rows. One of the suspects noticed him shifting on his seat, and frisked him. They found his service pistol, and shot him in the nape. His name was Jovem Bocalbos, superintendent; the newly promoted Makati City deputy chief of police who moonlighted as a passenger van driver to augment the income he took home to his wife and two young children. They say he was an honest man, and it was the reason why he took on sidelines.

He was buried with a flag wrapped around his coffin.

This is what happened when De la Paz was asked about the millions he took as a ?cash advance.? He said he had all supporting documents. He said he would answer all necessary questions to clear himself and his fellow delegates. He apologized for the untoward incident that brought ?international embarrassment? to the country. He said he would face the Senate probe because he had nothing to hide. He insisted that the P6.9 million was a cash advance and not a contingency fund, as other ranking police officers had earlier described the money. He said that it was necessary to bring a ?standby revolving fund? because of the ?shocking? costs of living in Russia.

A Sept. 4 travel authorization that Puno signed as chair of the National Police Commission mentioned only a P2.3-million fund for the delegation?s trip to Russia. De la Paz disbursed more money than was within his right, in spite of Executive Order 298, issued on March 23, 2004, which aligns the daily allowances for government officials with the United Nations Development Program Index. According to the index, the necessary allowance for living expenses amounts for a trip to St. Petersburg should be $229 per day. Each member of the delegation was allotted $467 per day out of the approved P2.3-million spending allowance.

De la Paz was about to go to Warsaw, Poland, with his wife Marie Fe and the Caringal couple. The ?shocking costs? may not be as shocking in Poland.

* * *

This is what happened a few days ago. A man on a motorcycle headed to Cebu City from Lapu-Lapu City was overtaken on a bridge by another motorcycle, ridden by two helmeted men. There were shots. Randel Agbo, a passenger on a Lapu-Lapu-bound jeepney, got down and brought the victim to the Cortes General Hospital in Mandaue City, where he was declared dead on arrival. His name was Jose Clint Tuling Cañete, 39, of Cordova town. He was a member of the Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operation Task Group, and had just testified at the hearing of a drug-related case. Investigators believe it was assassination by a drug syndicate.

This is what happened when De la Paz came home, after being held with his wife Marie Fe for 10 days by Moscow authorities. He arrived at 1:08 p.m. via Singapore Airlines. He claimed he had not done anything illegal. He claimed what happened was a ?misstep? and a ?lapse? on his part. He said he was willing to face any investigation into the incident. He took full responsibility for failing to declare P6.9 million worth of euros,

Verzosa says the unaccounted P6.9 million?formerly a contingency fund, then a cash advance?was in fact to be used for buying intelligence equipment. De la Paz, that brave police officer whose many years of service seems to have netted him the loyalty of men like Puno and Verzosa, did not appear before the Senate.

* * *

Email: pat.evangelista@gmail.com

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