FORMER Police Comptroller Eliseo dela Paz and nine other police officers, who became controversial for carrying euro money on an official trip to Russia, were cleared of graft and malversation charges.
The Sandiganbayan Second Division junked the cases due to insufficient evidence.
Sometime in 2008, the groupof Dela Paz, tagged as Euro Generals, were stopped at the airport for carrying P10 million of the Philippine National Police’s intelligence fund as contingency fund and travel allowance in attending an INTERPOL conference in Russia.
Others exonerated were Jaime Garcia Caringal, Ismael Rafanan, Orlando Pestaño, Samuel Rodriguez, Tomas Rentoy, Romeo Ricardo, German Doria and Emmanuel Carta.
According to the ruling, the prosecution’s evidence of Commission on Audit circulars stating how the intelligence fund should be used do not prove that Dela Paz and others misused such intel fund in going to Russia on a work-related trip.
“Technical malversation happens when the one who uses the funds under his administration for public use other than what it was appropriated for. These pieces of evidence (from COA) do not prove that the use of CIF (confidential and intelligence funds) for the expenses incurred by the PNP in its participation to the Interpol Assembly is not a covered expense,” the Sandiganbayan said.
“The prosecution bears the burden to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. It is the prosecution’s duty to prove each and every element of the sense charge in order to warrant a finding of guilt for the same. The prosecution failed to sufficiently establish the essential elements of the crimes charge and to overcome the presumption of innocence in favor of the accused. Accordingly, the case against the accused are hereby dismissed,” it added.
Following the ruling, the Sandiganbayan has lifted the Hold Departure Order against the erstwhile accused and ordered the release of the bail bonds they posted.