DILG caught off-guard by Puno resignation

Department of the Interior and Local Government officials say they were surprised at what they consider the abrupt resignation of DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno

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MANILA Philippines – At the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), where Rico Puno was the Undersecretary of Peace and Order, employees were surprised by the sudden announcement of his resignation.

They said they only found out about it through media reports. The President, however, already said over the weekend that Puno was on his way out.

DILG spokesperson Ariel Tanangonan said they had not yet received a copy of the statement nor the resignation letter.

“To a certain extent, [we’re] a little bit surprised, considering medyo immediately ang pag-resign,” he admitted.

On Tuesday, September 11, President Benigno Aquino III accepted the resignation of Puno, who submitted his resignation letter to Malacañang through acting DILG Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr on Friday, September 7.

Puno, a close friend of Aquino and a former gun supplier, released a statement explaining his resignation, saying he wanted “to support the President’s decision to give a free hand to the incoming [DILG] Secretary [Manuel “Mar” Roxas] in forming a new team.”

Real reason?

Previously, Puno told media that he was willing to work with Roxas in the DILG.

Puno has been under fire in recent days for reportedly trying to secure documents in the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo’s condominium.

It was later revealed that there had been an ongoing investigation led by Robredo including anomalous procurements of firearms, which included Puno.

Puno did not comment on the issue in his statement, but has been summoned by the Senate to answer questions on a probe relating to both his visit to Robredo’s residence and the supposed investigation on the procurements.

Malacañang has denied it is covering up for Puno and said it welcomes the probe.

No signs

Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Officer-in-Charge Chief Supt Reuben Bearis, whose agency is also controlled by Puno, said he was also surprised by the news.

Bearis said that only last week, Wednesday, September 5, Puno held a meeting with the BFP, to talk about the department’s current problems, and that there was no sign or word from Puno of his leaving the department.

He said he respects Puno’s decision, and welcomes Philippine National Police chief Nicanor Bartolome as his possible replacement.

Naintindihan ko naman siya [Puno], personal desisyon niya yun,” he told Rappler. “Sa tingin ko kwalipikado naman si General Bartolome (I understand Puno, it’s a personal decision. I think General Bartolome is qualified [to replace him].”

Before news of Puno’s resignation broke, Aquino announced Sunday, September 9, that Puno was on his way out of the DILG and would likely be replaced by Bartolome. – Rappler.com

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