The latest mystery in the Philippines involves a small sum of 120,000 Euros (6.8million pesos) found by the Russian customs agents in the luggage of…a former comptroller of the Philippine National Police, who with seven other policemen was attending a meeting of the 77th Interpol General Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia.Exactly why a retired comptroller was being paid by the government to attend the meeting was unclear, and exactly what he was doing with all that cash in his luggage is a mystery.

Right now, the spinning is going on. The money was a “contingency fund”, and authorized by the government. Oh, the government estimate for expenses was only a fifth of this amount? Well, maybe it was his own money. Or maybe it was given to him by thankful patrons who he had helped.

It would be interesting to find the bank that exchanged the money, and see if it was given in exchange for cash or if a government check was involved….or if the money was exchanged through a private money changer.

Legally, if you leave with large amount of cash, you have to declare it to the immigration authorities if it is over $10,000, and this was not done. And it was unclear if DelaPaz or his wife was carrying the money. It is also unclear if Mrs. DelaPaz’s trip was paid for by the government, or by her husband. In fact, there is a question who was paying the way for all the wives of the bigshots on the trip, since the government isn’t supposed to pay for spouse’s travel expenses.

Of course, unless you like caviar, it would be hard to spend all that money in Moscow. It would be interesting to look at the plane tickets and find out if “side trips” to other parts of Europe (to discuss with the police in Paris, London or Rome their official procedures in finding criminals, of course) were included in the trip.

Despite the facts no one in the Philippines seems to know where the money came from, we are assured that the documents have already been sent to the Russian authorities to show that the money was part of his official business.

Local wags are calling DelaPaz the “Euro General”, and the head of the police is upset at any police General being called names. It shows disrespect and hurts their dignity.

But have no fear: Interior Secretary Puno assures us that the money was just a contingency fund for expenses:

“Obviously if there’s something out of the ordinary, we’re going to run after whoever it is,” Puno said.

He said the National Police Commission, which he heads, will look into Dela Paz’s case.

Ah, well that will clear everything up.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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