Saturday, October 18, 2008

Philippines: Moscow junket gone wrong.

This is from the Manila Tribune.

This is just a small sample of rather suspect goings on involving the Philippine police. I recall reading a survey a long while back in which Filipinos ranked organisations according to how corrupt they were. The top two were the National Police and the Armed Forces followed closely by politicians. The Roman Catholic Church was among the least corrupt according to the survey.
I imagine in the US that politicians would probably be ranked more corrupt than the armed forces or police! When I was in the Philippines I didn't experience any corruption, have any trouble with the police, armed forces, or bureaucrats!
It is a bit ironic that the police should get into trouble at a police conference. The 6.9 million pesos is just over 143 thousand US dollars quite a nice bit of pocket money for the 8 policemen. However this seems a lot less flagrant than the case of Carlos Garcia of the AFP as described in the article.

Moscow junket gone wrong

Nobody, it seems, is ready to give up on the belief that nothing underhand was behind the detention of Philippine National Police (PNP) officials and their wives, including a retired officer and his wife carrying euros equivalent to P6.9 million in Moscow.
The incident has created another sorry addition to the corrupt image of the country despite the assertions of the government that there was nothing irregular in it.
It is hard to justify P6.9 million as expenses and pocket money for eight PNP officials. That would mean an equivalent of a little less than P1 million for each of the policemen who are supposedly attending the 77th Interpol General Assembly in Moscow.
With the perennial complaint about the local police lacking funds to purchase essential equipment, the allocation of such a huge amount for just one overseas trip or junket is seen as highly anomalous by most.
A cover up, some say, is very evident in the way PNP officials and the Palace had responded to the shameful Moscow incident.
The PNP had insisted that the money was a contingent fund for the delegates in the Moscow police convention while retired PNP comptroller Director Eliseo dela Paz who was held by Russian customs officials for carrying 105,000 euros said that some of the money was meant for the purchase of goods ordered by some family friends.
The incident again reminded many of a similar incident involving Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Comptroller Gen. Carlos Garcia, who was removed from the service after being charged with plunder.
Garcia’s two children were detained in a United States airport in 2003 after being caught with $100,000 in cash by US authorities in San Francisco without the necessary Customs declaration.
In April 2004, their mother and Garcia’s wife Clarita, signed a sworn statement before US authorities admitting much more money was brought to the United States but only that the money previously brought into the country was all declared by her.
It was later found that the Garcias owned properties in the US, including a $765,000 condominium on 502 Park Avenue; a $750,000 apartment at 222 East 34th Street, both in New York; and a house and lot in Westerville, Ohio.
While the similarity does not necessarily insinuate that comptrollers, whether in the PNP or the AFP, are all corrupt, the two incidents showed that Garcia and Dela Paz do not go around traipsing in foreign countries with loose change.
The fact that Garcia got away with merely a removal from service, caring none for the paltry P37,000 a month salary he had as comptroller, and now the defense from the Palace that Dela Paz was not carrying the P6.9 million illegally, gives a glimpse on the high tolerance of mischief in government under the Arroyo administration.
Dela Paz, who was under the custody of Russian authorities despite the government vouching for what was found in his possession, he and his wife are back at the hotel, but cannot leave Moscow, and that the Philippine Embassy will make sure of his presence when needed by Russian authorities. As of the latest report, Moscow authorities have cleared the documents sent by the Philippine government and Dela Paz and his wife are free to return home.
To consider that the event happened in the country where an Interpol meeting was being held and the ones apprehended were the country’s police officials again gives the country a huge blackeye.
The solution put forward by the PNP to address the problem was also more for show than anything else.
PNP chief, Director Gen. Jesus Verzosa said all foreign travels of police personnel are being suspended pending a review of existing policies on travels. The very next day, the PNP said that a handful of police officials were going to the United States for training.
The PNP also said it will hold seminars for its personnel to acclimatize them on rules and procedures in traveling to other countries.
The Moscow incident was not a situation involving an unintended violation of a rule on the carrying of currencies that is particular to Russia. A police officer should know this, even a retired one.
If indeed nothing is at fault in that incident, still it remains an indictment on the quality of the country’s police force.

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