Press Release
October 23, 2008

Zubiri: PNP caused us international embarrassment
much costlier than Euro107,000

"Although it was in whispers, all the staff in the Duma and the Russian Federation Foreign Ministry wondered how Filipino generals from a poor country could run around St. Petersburg awash with cash. It is common knowledge that we are one of the most poorly-equipped police force on earth, "said Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri who went with other legislators on an official Parliamentary Visit to the Russian Federation.

"The Senate visit to the Russian Federation went well fostering hope for better relations with the Russians. We need it as we look at better trade opportunities at a big market especially with the American and European meltdown."

"For the past five years, Russians have not invested not one new rouble. We are missing a lot of potential as they have investments in areas critical to our needs. They have big international presence in oil, natural gas, power and energy."

"I'm afraid that the PNP incident could adversely affect pending agreements between the Russian Federation and the Philippines dealing with defense cooperation, agriculture, campaign against organized and transnational crimes, sports, science and technology, energy, travel and visa requirements and legal assistance on criminal matters."

"Their behaviour put at risk the seriousness of their support as in the past. Russia supported us in UN Human Rights Council in 2006 and the 2004-2005 term of the Philippines in the United Nations Security Council."

"We are also thinking how they would be able to support our colleague Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago in her campaign for the ICJ."

"We also did many things for the Russian Federation. We supported Russia's membership to the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and membership to the East Asia Summit. This year in January, we supported Russia's membership to the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination."

"On trade, we are importing $190 Million worth of goods from Russia and only exporting $ 18 Million. So, there's a big opportunity to grow in terms of trade with Russia."

"Then, come the Euro-Generals who were hogging the headlines here and in Moscow, all over in print and even the internet. The Russians were very courteous that no one among our counterparts in the Duma dared bring up the case of the Euros 107,000 seized money from the contingent of the Philippine National Police. Just the same, the incident stuck out like a sore thumb.

"It shocked them that the Filipino generals are given such big allowances. We senators could not escape being suspected similarly.

"In the House of Representatives, we used to have only $200 a day versus this so-called PNP cash advance at $2,000 per day per person, or 1000% greater.

"It was in everybody's mind that there is hanky-panky going on at the PNP. No one could help asking where the money came from."

"Their violations stem from failure to declare the cash from Manila, if indeed they had it with them upon leaving for Russia. The AMLA reporting requirements apply to them. So, with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas circulars and the Russian Federation Custom requirements on import and export of foreign currency."

"We need to see the paper trail from the requests and releases, the foreign exchange dealers who supplied the Euros. This is at par with the Garcia caper that was dealt with with haste and urgency."We would want to see that in this case."

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