By Ellen T. Tordesillas
After days of deafening silence on the issue of his favorite undersecretary,Rico Puno,in-charge of police matters at the Department of Interior and Local Government,attempting to get hold of the documents in the possession of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, President Aquino finally spoke and revealed that it was upon his orders that Puno did it.
Speaking to media on the sidelines of the summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in Vladivostok, Russia, Aquino disclosed: "Sometime in the early evening (Aug. 18), tumawag sa atin si Secretary Leila de Lima at pinaalalang may mga confidential folders si Secretary Robredo that needed to be secured. I instructed him (Puno) to seal the office of Secretary Robredo to ensure that 'yung all of these records will be left intact. And that is the extent of the instructions that I gave to him."
He said his instructions did not include the condo unit of Robredo but he sees nothing wrong with Puno going there with some police officers. "He probably thought there were papers there to secure as well."
Media has come out with some of the documents on the investigations being conducted by the office of Robredo and one of them was on the planned purchase of assault rifles for the Philippine National Police Special Action Force in the amount of almost P400 million.
Results of the investigation submitted to Robredo ten days before the plane crash showed some questionable practices including overpricing. There was also a comment regarding conflict of interest when Puno traveled to Israel together with retired Police Director Leocadio Santiago, former director of the SAF; Ramiro Lopez III, observer in the Bids and Award Committee of the PNP, National headquarters; and Reynaldo Espenelli, president of R. Espenelli and Co, a proponent in the bidding representing the Israeli Military Industries.
Puno and company's trip to Israel via Dubai was sponsored by the Israeli arms supplier.
Puno, actually is not the first person in Aquino's favored circle known to have accepted favors from businessmen with proposed projects with the government, which is a violation of the Republic Act 6713, Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Employees.
Early this year, Aquino's classmate, Cristino "Bong" Naguiat Jr., chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, was reported to have been a recipient of the generosity of Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada, whose company has recently acquired a license to operate a gambling complex in the Philippines.
PAGCOR regulates casinos in the country.
Naguiat,members of his family including their nanny and other Pagcor officials were treated by Okada in Macau to a luxurious visit with all the perks: free accommodation in Wynn Resorts luxury suite, $1,673 dinner, $20,000 cash gifts, $1,878I Chanel bag for Naguiat's wife, which he said he returned.
Naguiat was never sanctioned for that. He continues to enjoy Aquino's trust and confidence.
(Kris Aquino last week jokingly announced in her TV show that Okada, whom she has not yet met, is the person she will marry.)
Since the purpose of the sealing the Robredo's office was to secure the documents on the probes he was conducting, why would Puno, who was a subject of the investigation, be the one to secure it?
Aquino said there are two DILG undersecretaries. One, Austere Panadero, is in-charge of local governments and Puno, who takes charge of the PNP. ""It was logical that Puno handle it since …was in charge of police matters," he said.
The logic is mindboggling in its simplicity.
Saxnviolins, a regular participant in my blog, remarked: "Agreed. In the same way that it is logical to ask the investigated to guard the investigation papers."
Pushing the President's logic further, Saxnviolins suggested:"Might as well ask a suspected pedophile to guard the kindergarten. Let us ask China to guard Scarborough Shoal para wala nang away."
Aquino's trust and confidence on Puno has not wavered, invoking the " innocent until proven guilty" principle.
We can't help but compare his leniency with Puno and Naguiat with his hard-heartedness in the cases of Prisco Nilo , the former administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services, and former National Bureau of Investigation Magtanggol Gatdula, both of whom he shamed in public.
Borrowing F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous line, "Let me tell you about Pnoy and his buddies. They are different from you and me."