Ex-PNP comptroller De la Paz, wife missing?

By Michael Punongbayan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 27 2012 10:28 AM | Updated as of Sep 27 2012 06:28 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Government prosecutors yesterday urged the Sandiganbayan to force the appearance of former Philippine National Police (PNP) comptroller Eliseo de la Paz and his wife Maria Fe.

Prosecutors filed the urgent motion before the anti-graft court after learning that the couple has not been staying at their house in Quezon City for a long time now.

And if they fail to appear before the Sandiganbayan tomorrow, the prosecution would ask for the immediate issuance of arrest orders against them.

The De la Paz couple is facing charges for violating Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) laws after they were caught carrying 105,000 euros or P6.9 million cash in Moscow, Russia almost four years ago. They are out on bail.

The proceedings of their trial before the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division were suspended in February 2012 following a reinvestigation of the case by the Office of the Ombudsman.

But when investigators conducting the new probe tried to serve notices on the De la Paz couple at their given address at No. 32 San Felipe Street, San Beda Village, Quezon City, no one was found living in the house.

The Ombudsman’s courier said a security guard told him that “the house is empty and no longer visited by the owners a long time ago.”

“Under Section 2 Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, an accused granted bail shall, among other conditions, appear before the proper court whenever so required by the court and shall surrender himself for execution of the final judgment. This undertaking is effective upon approval and shall remain in force at all stages of the case until its final determination unless the proper court directs otherwise,” Assistant Special Prosecutor III Joefferson Toribio told the Sandiganbayan in his urgent motion.

“In view of the fact that as shown in the Return, accused Eliseo D. de la Paz and his co-accused spouse Maria Fe C. de la Paz have already moved out of their residence with no forwarding address, there is grave and imminent danger that both accused will not be able to comply with the bail conditions imposed upon by the court,” he stressed.

Toribio said the couple did not inform the Sandiganbayan of the intended transfer of their residence or their new residence so that notices from the court and other processes may be effectively served upon them.

“We are concerned that this may result in their non-appearance before this court when required and consequently, delay the proceedings in these cases or worse, strip the court of its power to effectively enforce its orders or judgments,” he said.

Since the De la Paz couple is missing, Toribio has asked the anti-graft court to compel them to show up in a hearing at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.

“Otherwise, we shall be constrained to move for the cancellation of their bail and the issuance by the court of a warrant for their immediate arrest,” he said.