A CLOSE aide of President Benigno Aquino III was appointed as undersecretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In a simple rite at the agency’s main office in Quezon City, outgoing Undersecretary for Peace and Order Marius Corpus turned over his post to Rico Escalona Puno.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

As undersecretary for peace and order, Puno will supervise the operations of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

He served as Aquino’s consultant when he was serving as Tarlac congressman from 1998-2007.

In Aquino’s brief Senate term from June 30, 2007 to June 30 this year, Puno also served as officer for public order and safety, economic affairs and in local governance, as well as liaison officer for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Aquino is the concurrent secretary of the DILG after he failed to choose among former Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

“I have not found yet an alter-ego that enjoys full trust and confidence. Who else can I turn to but myself,” the President earlier said.

Legacy, vacation

In his farewell message, Corpus pointed out that the BFP and BJMP is quite different when he first arrived in the DILG nine years ago.

“We introduced some changes that equalize the pay of BFP and BJMP personnel at par with the PNP; promoted positions so that regional directors of BFP and BJMP are now full-fledge regional directors,” he said.

In a separate interview, Corpus said that during his stint at the department, the new Fire Code of the Philippines was passed into law.

“Aside from that we have constructed new district, city and municipal jails, and inmates were able to vote for the first time,” he told Sun.Star.

There are around 17,000 inmates nationwide who have benefited from our efforts to allow the inmates to vote because it is their right in the first place, according to Corpus.

“I hope that the two bureaus will continue their process of professionalization, and I believe they will be in good hands with the leadership of Undersecretary Puno,” he noted.

For his part, the new undersecretary assured department officials and personnel to continue the programs at the two bureaus, including equipment upgrade to improve their services.

“We will try to implement the programs and projects in the way Usec. Corpus has done under his watch,” Puno said.

Corpus, on the other hand, is more than excited to go back to private life after serving nine years under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“I will take a short vacation because I haven’t gone on leave for nine years. After that I will resume my private law practice,” he told Sun.Star. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)