The Rico Puno question-A A +A
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
AN official’s stint in a high-profile government position is often shaped by public perception. More so if that position is acquired through appointment from Malacañang, described by some as a snake pit. For Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Rico Puno, negative public perception has been his undoing.
Puno resigned from his post yesterday after encountering a hailstorm of criticisms following reports that he and some police officers did the rounds of the condominium and offices of the late DILG secretary Jesse Robredo a day after Robredo’s plane crashed in the seas off Masbate on Aug. 18, 2012.
Puno cited as reason for his resignation the earlier announcement of President Noynoy Aquino to give a free hand to incoming DILG secretary Mar Roxas to choose his own team. But the criticisms hurled at him and the probe that a Senate committee headed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is cooking may have made the making of that decision easier.
The resignation, though, should have been done much earlier, when Robredo was still very much alive and when it became apparent that Puno’s actions have become the focus notably of critics of the Aquino administration. The most opportune time for him to quit, I would say, was after the Rizal Park hostage-taking fiasco in August 2010.
Puno is among the PNoy buddies (critics of the Aquino admin refer to them as “kaibigan, kaklase at kabarilan”) appointed to top government posts under the current government. While most of the “3Ks” appointees have been doing fine (think Energy Secretary Rene Almendras and Bureau of Internal Revenue’s Kim Henares) Puno obviously isn’t.
But is Puno being given a fair shake in the shaping of his public image? Is he as bad as what most people perceive him to be? I hope the real Puno will surface soon in the coming Senate probe.
A post in journalist Raissa Robles’s blog (raissarobles.com) last Sept. 10 detailed the Q & A between reporters and President Noynoy Aquino during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Vladivostok, Russia. The transcript is an interesting read given recent interest on the investigation supposedly conducted by the late DILG secretary Jesse Robredo on his undersecretary, Rico Puno.
It was in that interview that PNoy confirmed that he ordered Puno to secure Robredo’s offices (the order didn’t include Robredo’s condo) the day after the crash. PNoy said he still trusts his buddy (“syempre may presumption naman of innocence until proven otherwise,” he said).
But the President said a mouthful about the firearms procurement process in DILG, something that he admitted he asked Robredo to look into. He specifically mentioned the pricing of Galil assault rifles, which he said could be acquired as a much cheaper price (per google search). He also questioned the bidding process wherein the bidders that offered the cheaper prices backed off one by one.
Since Robredo died, incoming DILG Secretary Mar Roxas will have to continue the investigation on the firearms procurement that PNoy questioned. The burden will be lesser because Robredo already started it. But while Puno is no longer around, the others involved are still with the DILG and the Philippine National Police. Roxas will have his hands full at the start of his DILG stint.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 12, 2012.