Miriam to Puno: No excuses, face probe

Posted at 09/11/12 5:55 PM

Miriam to Puno: Face Robredo's widow

MANILA, Philippines – Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno’s resignation will not excuse him from the probe that was set to determine the alleged corruption in the present administration, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said.

Immediately after Puno issued a statement on his “resignation,” Santiago warned he still has to appear during the hearing on Friday in order to “answer the many questions in the mind of the public.”

Santiago, who will lead the hearing, said Puno will also have to contend with what the widow of Puno’s former boss knows.

The senator also invited for Friday's hearing the wife of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Maria Leonor “Leni”. The latter begged off, however, saying she is still in mourning.

Santiago said she could not subpoena Robredo’s wife, but she asked that Leni share with her committee an inventory of the documents kept before by her husband.

The probe has taken center stage following news that Puno and some police officials went to Robredo’s condominium unit on August 19, a day after the latter’s plane crashed off the waters of Masbate.

There is no indication that Puno was after a certain report. News later revealed, however, that he may be implicated in an investigation concerning the purchase of high-powered firearms.

Asked if Puno’s resignation meant guilt, Santiago merely said that he should have already done this before. “He could have been the government’s poster boy for delicadeza.”

In fact, it was Aquino himself who decided to take out Puno from the DILG. This was announced on Saturday in Vladivostok, Russia.

Aquino, however, still defended Puno and said it was him that ordered a “lock down” of Robredo’s offices.

Santiago earlier said she has a lot on mind as to what she will ask Puno come Friday.

“So what was he doing there? What was so urgent that he has to go himself? What were the documents he wanted to get his hands on?” Santiago surmised.

Santiago said she also wants to know if Puno was given the exclusive jurisdiction of the Philippine National Police.

“Is it true that in practice, peace and security—meaning to say the Philippine National Police—was not only delegated to Usec. Puno, but was actually exclusive to him, to the exclusion of his own Secretary. That would become very anomalous.” -- with a report from Ruby Tayag, dzMM