Dela Paz clears superiors; Miriam suspects coverup

MANILA, Philippines — Former Philippine National Police comptroller Dir. Eliseo dela Paz assumed sole responsibility for the mess where he was held in Moscow for failing to declare the equivalent of P6.9 million in euros last month.But dela Paz, who appeared for the first time at a Senate hearing on the matter, failed to convince Senate foreign relations committee chairwoman Miriam Santiago, who said he appeared to be a willing scapegoat.

“As I mentioned in my arrival statement, it is my own, I did it on my own behalf,” dela Paz said when asked by Santiago about the nature of the 105,000 euros (P6.9 million).

But Santiago said she suspected that Dela Paz was covering up for his superiors.

Santiago described Dela Paz’s owning up of the responsibility as “very heroic,” noting that he could be jailed for more than 20 years for the crime.

“I refuse to believe that you are the sole perpetrator of the crime. I believe you are a part of a bigger conspiracy,” she said.

She said that the more dela Paz insists he did it on his own, “the more you may be tying your hands when you go to trial court.”

“You are facing a regular sentence of 20 years in jail and possibly more than that. Are you ready to do that, go to jail more than 20 years… so that other people can be free. I refuse to believe you are the sole perpetrator of a crime or offenses… you are part of a bigger conspiracy and out of a misplaced sense of esprit de corps … you assume responsibility for others. That seems to be the most humanitarian view of your situation,” she told him.

Santiago also said she commiserated with dela Paz and his family, “because I believe you are caught between the devil and a hard rock.”

The hearing is continuing, with an array of senators lined up to question dela Paz and others involved in the scandal, as well as resource persons from the Commission on Audit and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Probers are looking into the possibility that the generals, or at least Dela Paz, was trying to launder ill-gotten money, a charge that he has denied.



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