Senate probe on Puno,started and ended today

After resigning from his post as DILG Undersecretary, Rico Puno is not yet free from the eye and scrutiny of the public.

Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws headed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago today started it’s inquiry regarding allegations on jueteng, PNP firearms acquition and Luneta hostage incident, against former DILG Undersecreatry Rico Puno. Present among the Senators, aside from Santiago were Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Aquilino Koko Pimental III (who both came in a little late).

Resource persons present aside from Puno were PNP Chief Nicanor Bartolome, who according to report will replace Puno in DILG, Retd Archbishop Oscar Cruz, and members of the PNP Bids and Awards Committee.

In the hearing Puno denied all allegations against him and said those were all lies. In his opening statement, he reiterated that some media organizations are using the issue of “condo raid” to malign him and destroy his name. He repeatedly said that he just followed orders from the President regarding the sealing and securing of the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo’s offices and documents.

With regards to the jueteng issue, Santiago grilled Puno on his “zero knowledge” regarding jueteng protectors. Santiago cited large amounts of money which were alleged as income from the illegal numbers game, to which Archbishop Cruz affirmed as more or less the real amounts being gained from jueteng operations. But Puno cannot say how its operation continue to proliferate despite saying that there are no protectors on the national level.

Meanwhile, on the fire-arms deal issue, Santiago again blasted Puno and the role of his consultant Ramiro Lopez to the bidding process. Santiago questioned how Lopez, a consultant and observer had a hand on the bidding process of PNP firearms. She even asked Puno the need to be accompanied by Lopez during their vacation trip to Israel, to which they went to visit a gun manufacturer.

Puno was also grilled on the Manila Hostage crisis issue. She specifically pertained to the report of the IRRC which recommended filing of criminal and administrative cases against Puno but was later reversed by the review of Executive Secretary Ochoa. Puno on the other hand didn’t answer why there was reversal of the report.

The hearing ended with the presscon, wherein Sen. Santiago revealed her observations. She didn’t directly said that Puno was lying but said she was not convinced with all his answers. She also said there will be no 2nd hearing and that was the 1st and the last, given the non-cooperation of other Senators and the executive department.

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