MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has cleared two former senior police officials implicated in the so-called "Euro Generals" scandal in 2008.
In an 11-page decision dated February 21 and released Wednesday, the Sandiganbayan's Fourth Division acquitted Eliseo dela Paz and Romeo T. Ricardo for the failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt in the charge of conspiring to allow the former to unduly stay in his position beyond the mandatory retirement.
Dela Paz, then Director for Comptrollership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) was accused of illegally continuing to exercise the duties of his office by attending the four-day 77th International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) General Assembly from Oct. 6, to 10, 2008 at St. Petersburg, Russia and accepting the designation special disbursing officer of the PNP delegation.
Ricardo, then Director of the PNP Directorate for Plans, was accused of conspiring with dela Paz for recommending to then PNP Chief Avelino Razon, Jr., that he be included as part of the delegation.
The court said the evidence "falls short of the required quantum of proof for criminal liability" and said it has not been shown that dela Paz played an active part in having himself included in the Philippine delegation, or much less talked to accused Ricardo about it.
"Neither was there any proof that either accused unduly influenced the approving authorities to include (dela) Paz as one of the participants in the conference or acted in concert to do so. There is "no evidence that accused (dela) Paz even applied for a slot in the delegation." the court said.
The scandal broke after dela Paz and his wife were briefly detained and interrogated at the Moscow International airport for carrying an undeclared amount of 105,000 euros (PHP6.9 million) in cash on Oct. 11, 2008, a day after the conference. Dela Paz has already reached the PNP's mandatory retirement age of 56 on October 9.
Aside from the sum which he said was contingency fund, dela Paz was also found to have in his possession 45,000 euros (roughly equivalent to PHP2.97 million).
After a few days of questioning and detention, dela Paz and the PNP delegation were allowed to return to the Philippines, but the Russian government confiscated the euros.
Associate Justices Alex L. Quiroz and Reynaldo P. Cruz concurred in the decision. (PNA)