Aquino: I ordered Puno to secure documents

Rappler.com
The President tells reporters on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Russia that he ordered Puno to secure Robredo's office, but not his condominium unit

President Benigno Aquino III attends the APEC Business Advisory Council dialogue with other countries' leaders during the 20th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vladivostok, Russia. Photo courtesy of Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III told reporters he did not order his friend, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno, to go to the Robredo family’s condominium unit in Quezon City, according to an ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel) report.

What he had asked Puno to do was to secure the office of the late Secretary Jesse Robredo shortly after Robredo’s plane crashed off Masbate, the same report added.

The report said the President, in an interview with Filipino reporters on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Vladivostok, Russia, admitted ordering Puno to lock down Robredo’s office. “Sometime in the early evening [of the crash], [Justice] Secretary Leila de Lima called and pinaalala niya (she reminded me of) the need to secure Secretary Robredo’s documents because at that time he was doing a lot of investigations,” the President was quoted by ANC as saying.

Told that Puno also went to Robredo’s condominium unit, the President said: “Well, he probably thought there were also some documents there that needed to be secured.”

Puno, Mr. Aquino’s friend and shooting buddy, is under fire for allegedly attempting to retrieve sensitive documents from the Robredos’ residence a day after Robredo died in a plane crash off Masbate August 18.

The subject of controversy is not Puno’s visit to Robredo’s office but his attempt, along with 3 police officers, to enter Robredo’s condominium on August 19, which was exposed by ABS-CBN.

Robredo’s wife, Leni, confirmed that a group of men tried to enter their condominium unit to “get papers.”

Leni could not identify the men, but a visitors’ log listed the names of Puno, Police Supt. Oliver Tanseco and two others with the surnames Togonon and Pagdilao.

Tanseco was earlier quoted in reports denying they attempted to raid the condominium unit. He said they were merely following a presidential order to ensure nothing was taken from Robredo’s office and residence.

Tanseco’s testimony contradicts the President’s claim that the latter’s order covered only Robredo’s office.

Puno being investigated?

ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol earlier reported that one of the sensitive documents that were in the Robredo family’s condominium unit involved an investigation into Puno’s involvement in the alleged anomalous procurement of arms for the Philippine National Police worth nearly P400 million. The bidding for the procurement was suspended pending the result of the investigation, the report said.

Robredo received the document on the procurement on August 8, 10 days before his fatal plane crash, according to the report.

The report also said that 4 people — Puno, former Special Action Force Chief Leocadio Santiago, Puno’s consultant Ramiro Lopez III, and a certain Reynaldo Espineli of the company R. Espineli — were involved in the shelved bidding.

The group left the country for Israel after Puno was invited by foreign gun supplier Israel Military Industries (IMI) on May 10, the date of the second pre-bid conference for the arms procurement.

After the trip, IMI and R. Espineli were the only bidders left out of 7 groups that participated in the pre-bid conference, the ABS-CBN report said.

Robredo allegedly expressed apprehension over the bidding because of the exorbitant prices of the arms.

There was also concern over a possible conflict of interest since Puno and Lopez are members of the bids and awards committee. Puno is the DILG undersecretary in charge of police matters.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said she will file a resolution seeking a Senate inquiry into Puno’s alleged attempt to obtain documents from the Robredo residence.

She said she also wants Puno’s “unique and anomalous” authority as overseer of police affairs investigated. – Rappler.com

 

 

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