DILG's Puno announces resignation 3 days before Senate probe
In a statement, Puno, a shooting buddy of President Benigno Aquino III, said he quit his post to give incoming Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas free reign in forming a new team.
"I believe that I have carried out my assigned duties to the best of my ability. Moving forward, I have resigned as DILG Undersecretary to support the President’s decision to give a free hand to the incoming Secretary in forming a new 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 in the statement.
Roxas was appointed DILG chief replacing Jesse Robredo, who died in a plane crash last August 18.
Resignation submitted last week
In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Puno submitted his official letter of resignation even before Aquino's trip to Russia for the APEC Summit last week.
"Last Friday, former DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno submitted his letter of resignation to the President, through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. The President has accepted Mr. Puno’s resignation effective immediately," Lacierda said.
"Nung nasa Russia po kami, 'di pa natatanggap ni Pangulo 'yung kanyang resignation letter," Lacierda said, adding that Aquino spoke to Puno Monday.
He said it was Ochoa who issued a memo to Aquino informing him of Puno's resignation.
As of Tuesday, Puno is out of government, Lacierda said, adding he is not aware of plans for a new position for him.
This Friday's investigation by the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws under Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago will also center on Puno's supposed suspicious moves days after Robredo's death.
A day after Robredo's death, Puno and several policemen reportedly tried to enter the late secretary's condominium unit in Quezon City. At the time of his death, Robredo was investigating several anomalous transactions, including a controversial weapons deal by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
As DILG undersecretary, Puno was the official overseeing the PNP.
Puno's statement came with a chronology of events explaining his actions following Robredo's death.
Last Sunday, Santiago said in an interview on dzBB that Puno was given much power because of a supposed backer whose influence, she said, was such that Puno was not sacked even after the disastrous handling of the Aug. 23, 2010 hostage crisis in Manila.
Eight tourists from Hong Kong were killed along with the dismissed police officer who took them hostage at the time — a virtual blackeye to the then-two-month-old Aquino administration.
'Clears the air'
Lacierda said Puno's resignation cleared the air on Puno's alleged close relations with the President. He said Puno resigned voluntarily.
"Resignation is always a selfless act, especially in the midst of a difficult situation," Lacierda said as he commended Puno for his decision.
Lacierda, however, clarified that Puno's resignation did not mean Aquino had lost trust in him. "It doesn't follow that the president lost trust and confidence in Puno," he said.
Responding to questions on why Puno resigned despite his assertions that he acted under the president's orders when he visited Robredo's condominium unit, Lacierda said they are leaving it up to Puno to explain.
"As far as we know, Usec. Puno is willing to defend himself," he said, adding that it would be up to Puno if he would show up at the Senate inquiry on Friday.— KBK, GMA News