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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:47:00 10/24/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang vowed to pursue administrative charges against officials who violated several administrative orders on foreign travel in connection with the fielding of a top-level Philippine National Police (PNP) delegation to the 77rth Interpol assembly in Russia earlier this month.

“You can be assured that the matter or the investigation will not stop at the Senate or Ombudsman. Necessary administrative cases will also be filed in the event that the investigation uncovers that there really are blatant violations,” deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez told a news conference at the Palace on Friday.

During a hearing of the Senate committee on foreign relations Thursday, officials admitted that the PNP officers who attended the Interpol conference were older than 45, and that the government shouldered their travel expenses.

This violated administrative orders on cutting foreign travel costs, and allowing only officials 45-years-old and younger to attend foreign seminars, so they can relay what they have learned to their colleagues, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the committee
chairperson, said.

Former Philippine National Police (PNP) comptroller, retired director Eliseo de la Paz, was a no show. De la Paz was held for questioning at the Moscow Airport on October 11 for not declaring the €105,000 (P6.9 million) in cash he was carrying.

Officials at the hearing, including PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa and Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, could not fully explain the source of the money Dela Paz was carrying, which was supposed to have been the contingency fund of the eight-man delegation, some of whom traveled with their wives.

Verzosa’s wife, Cynthia, also went to Russia even if the PNP chief was not a member of the delegation.

Golez said the Palace is leaving it up to the PNP and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to compel de la Paz to testify at the Senate hearing.

“Only de la Paz can explain the matter. His answers to the questions are very important. We must all know the truth behind this controversy,” Golez said. “I’m very sure the PNP hierarchy is now considering all available means where their people can be cooperative [in the investigation].”

However, the PNP has said it no longer has control of de la Paz, who retired October 9, while attending the Interpol conference.

Golez bucked calls for a revamp of the PNP and for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to sack Puno and Verzosa, saying the two officials “enjoy [her] the full trust and confidence.”

“We cannot just hasten our judgment considering that there are many unanswered questions. We should be comprehensive but at same time circumspect with regards to [the] facts,” the spokesman said.

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-10-24T17:02:28+00:00UTC10bUTCFri, 24 Oct 2008 17:02:28 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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