Puno resigns as DILG undersecretary

Posted at 09/11/2012 3:50 PM | Updated as of 09/12/2012 6:14 AM

Palace accepts resignation

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Undersecretary Rico Puno of the Department of the Interior and Local Government resigned from his post Tuesday.

A two-page statement issued by Puno said he has resigned from his position as DILG undersecretary "to support the President's decision to give a free hand to the incoming secretary (Mar Roxas)" in forming his own team.

"I wish to thank President Aquino for his trust and confidence in giving me the opportunity to serve our country and people," he said.

President Benigno Aquino III has already accepted Puno's resignation.

In a letter dated September 11 obtained by ABS-CBNnews.com, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa told Puno: “On behalf of his excellency…this is to inform you that your resignation is hereby accepted, effective immediately.”

Puno's resignation letter was dated August 31. Ochoa received the letter only on September 7.

Puno has come under fire for going to DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo's condo unit in Quezon City on August 19, a day after Robredo's plane crashed, allegedly to secure some documents there.

The DILG undersecretary has also been accused of various anomalies including a possibly overpriced firearms deal.

In the statement, Puno said he was ordered by the President to strengthen the DILG to make uniformed personnel true servants and protectors of the people. He said that for the past 2 years, he has carried out specific assignments in accordance with the President’s mandate.

He also said he introduced reforms to ensure full transparency of procurement and bidding processes.

"We have streamlined these processes to achieve the President’s objective of getting 'the biggest bang for the buck' in providing basic equipment for enabling our uniformed personnel to perform their tasks effectively," he said.

"I believe that I have carried out my assigned duties to the best of my ability," he added.

He also said he opted not to speak to media to rebut the allegations.

Chronology of events

In his statement, Puno also gave a narration of his whereabouts on August 18 - the day Robredo's plane crashed in Masbate - and on August 19.

Puno said he was given orders by President Aquino to secure Robredo's offices on August 18, at 8:45 p.m., just hours after Robredo's plane crashed.

He said he relayed the instruction to Supt. Oliver Tanseco, deputy chief of the Office of Internal Security in Robredo's office.

At around 11:30 p.m. on August 18, Puno said he went to the office of PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome where he met the PNP chief, Tanseco, DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero, and Robredo's chief of staff.

He said he later told President Aquino that Robredo's offices had been secured.

On August 19, at 9 a.m., Puno said he supervised the sealing of Robredo's office in the DILG, in the presence of Robredo's men.

He said Tanseco then informed him that there were documents at Robredo's condo unit. He said he led a team that included Tanseco to visit the condo but did not go inside. He said the team stayed at the lobby while Tanseco went to the unit.

He said he instructed the team to sign the condominium logbook to show that they were present. He said the group left shortly after and proceeded straight to Camp Crame to supervise the sealing of Robredo's office at 10:30 a.m.

He also went to the Napolcom office in Makati to seal Robredo's office there at 11:30 a.m.

At 3:30 p.m., Puno said he accompanied Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and a team from the Presidential Security Group to inspect the securing of Robredo's office as well as the condo unit.

He said the entire operation was completed at 7 pm. - with reports from Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com and Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News