Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the Business Mirror on October 29,2008, page A10.

“It is always the best policy to speak the truth–unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar.”  – Jerome K. Jerome

This story happened years ago. In October 2001, a friend working at the Shangrila Hotel in Kuala Lumpur asked me if I knew any members of a PNP (Philippine National Police) delegation staying at his hotel. I told him no.

“Why?” I inquired.

“There was an incident involving the wife of a member of the delegation,” he replied.

“Oh?” I said trying to get him to tell the story without having to beg him for it.

“Her handbag was snatched on the way to the KLCC mall beside the Petronas Twin Towers,” he said.

“So?” I replied. “Jalan P. Ramlee is notorious for motorbike-riding snatchers.”

“Yes, but how many people do you know who walk around with $25,000 in cash?” he replied.

“Are you kidding me?” I was shocked!

“We couldn’t believe it either but then she told us to open the hotel safe and she showed us how much money she brought with her,” he said.

He added, “If you don’t believe me, I will send you a copy of the police report when I get back to Kuala Lumpur.”

Here’s the police report, filed at the Dang Wangi Balai Polis in October 12, 2001:

“It was almost 11:00 AM at 12 Oct I came from Shangrila Hotel on my way to KLCC walking along Jalan P. Ramlee when a motorbike riding Indian grab my handbag. I was holding it on my right hand. I did not see the plate no. of the bike because it moved so fast. But I remember he was an Indian guy and was all alone. About 25 – 29 years old. Contents of my bag are ff: credit cards, passport w/US visa and European countries, airline ticket, cellphone, $25,000 cash, diamond heart shape ring 3.28 carats…”

“The wife of the PNP official wrote down her occupation as businesswoman,” my friend said.

“There’s nothing out of place with that, many spouses of government officials need to engage in business to supplement the meager salary of their mates,” I set him straight.

“Maybe she was going to the mall to buy a house?” my friend teased.

Apparently, it was the $25,000 in walking-around money that bothered my friend and his colleagues from the hotel.

To be frank, the amount of cash she was carrying bothered me, too. But I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation why anybody on a short trip would need to carry that amount in cash.

She had accompanied her husband who was on government business. She was a businesswoman. Besides, as we all know, PNP wives who accompany their husbands on official trips have to pay their own way.

“The lady’s passport, minus the cash and the jewelry, was recovered by the police,” he told me. End of story.

Moral of the story for (now retired) police general Eliseo Dela Paz, PNP chief Jesus Verzosa, and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary  Ronaldo Puno: Read the quotation at the top of the page.