Ombudsman affirms raps vs 9 'euro generals'

By Michael Punongbayan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 21 2014 08:41 AM | Updated as of Jan 21 2014 04:41 PM

MANILA - The Office of the Ombudsman has affirmed its decision to file multiple graft and malversation charges against nine active and retired officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) before the Sandiganbayan for their role in the so-called “euro generals” scandal in 2008.

In a 15-page order, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR yesterday, the anti-graft agency junked the separate motions for reconsideration filed by the respondents in the case for lack of merit.

Indicted were PNP officials Eliseo dela Paz, then chief for comptrollership; Emmanuel Carta, then deputy chief for operations; Ismael Rafanan, then chief of the directorial staff; Romeo Ricardo, then director for plans; German Doria, then director for human resources and doctrine development; and Jaime Caringal, then Region 9 director.

Also facing criminal charges were retired chief superintendent Orlando Pestaño and Senior Superintendents Samuel Rodriguez and Tomas Rentoy III.

The filing of charges was recommended by a panel of prosecutors and investigators, namely director Mary Susan Guillermo, assistant special prosecutor Jeofferson Toribio, director Dennis Garcia, assistant special prosecutor II Lyn Dimayuga, and graft investigation and prosecution officer Richard Buban.

Cleared by the Ombudsman were former interior secretary Ronaldo Puno, former PNP chief Avelino Razon Jr., retired director Silverio Alarcio Jr., former deputy director general Edgrado Acuña, retired Chief Superintendent Joel Ma. Alvarez, Evita Caringal, and Cynthia Verzosa.

In junking the respondents’ motions for reconsideration, the ombudsman said they “failed to present new evidence or cite any errors of law or irregularities not previously raised which can justify a modification or reversal of the resolution dated Feb. 22, 2013.”

The Office of the Ombudsman, led by Conchita Carpio-Morales, noted that some matters discussed in the appeals were essentially evidentiary matters that should best be threshed out in a full-blown trial.

The ombudsman said the claim of Ricardo, who filed a motion to re-open the preliminary investigation in order to file his counter-affidavit, that he was not aware of the preliminary investigation “strains credulity as the reinvestigation is among the top subjects of national media and public interest.”

The ombudsman said Ricardo is deemed to have waived his right to participate in the preliminary investigation.

Dela Paz and his wife Maria Fe were barred from leaving the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow after they were caught carrying 105,000 euros (P6.9 million), which was way above the amount a traveler could bring out of the country. The couple and more than a dozen former and active PNP officials were in Russia for the 77th International Police general assembly in October 2008.

All but two of the respondents were originally cleared of the charges in July 2011 but Toribio, who was handling the case, managed to convince Morales to order a review, saying investigators may have “overlooked key pieces of evidence in this case and proceeded to absolve all of the respondents except the De la Paz spouses.”