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Sandigan clears 9 euro generals
In a 55-page resolution promulgated on Oct. 18, the court’s Second Division granted the respective demurrer to evidence filed by the nine former ranking police officers, seeking outright dismissal of the cases without presenting their defense but based solely on the weakness of evidence of the prosecution.
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Sandigan clears 9 euro generals

(The Philippine Star) - October 26, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has dismissed graft and technical malversation cases against the nine retired police officers dubbed as the “euro generals” in connection with their alleged illegal disbursement of P10 million in intelligence funds for their travel to Russia in 2008.

In a 55-page resolution promulgated on Oct. 18, the court’s Second Division granted the respective demurrer to evidence filed by the nine former ranking police officers, seeking outright dismissal of the cases without presenting their defense but based solely on the weakness of evidence of the prosecution.

“In all criminal cases, the prosecution bears the burden to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. In discharging this burden, it is the prosecution’s duty to prove each and every element of the offenses charged in order to warrant a finding of guilt for the same. This, the prosecution failed to do,” the Second Division’s ruling read.

The nine former police officers were led by Eliseo dela Paz, then chief for comptrollership of the Philippine National Police (PNP); 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; Orlando Pestaño, then director for finance service; Samuel Rodriguez, then special disbursing officer of the finance service; Tomas Rentoy III then director of the budget division of the PNP directorate for comptrollership; and Jaime Caringal, then Region IX police director.

With their acquittal, the Second Division has ordered the lifting of the hold departure order it earlier issued against them. The court also directed the release of the bail bond they previously posted for their provisional liberty.

The cases involved six counts of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and three counts of illegal use of public funds, also referred to as technical malversation under Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code.

The cases stemmed from the alleged illegal disbursement of P10 million of the PNP’s confidential and intelligence fund (CIF) for 2008 for the travel of Dela Paz and his co-accused police officials to attend the 77th International Police (Interpol) general assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia from Oct. 7 to 10, 2008.

The alleged anomaly was discovered when Dela Paz and his wife Maria Fe were prevented by authorities from leaving the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow after they were caught carrying 105,000 euros (P6.9 million) in cash, way above the limit that can be carried out of the country.

In dismissing the cases, the Second Division said that while the prosecution was able to prove that the retiring police officers’ attendance at the Interpol general assembly violated the 2008 General Appropriations Act (GAA), it was not established that they acted with “criminal design” or bad faith.

“Thus, even if there was a violation of the General Appropriations Act on sending the retiring delegates, there was no evidence that such was unjustified or done without adequate reason... In fact, the evidence presented by the prosecution shows that the Interpol Assembly was an official activity and thus, negates the accused’s alleged evident bad faith,” the court said.

Furthermore, the ombudsman’s prosecution team also failed to prove that the acts of the accused had caused “undue injury” to the government, especially as the entire P10 million was returned by the accused and reverted to the government’s general fund. 

The court noted the Commission on Audit (COA) did not even issue a Notice of Disallowance (ND) on the disbursement of the fund, negating the alleged irregularities in its release. 

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