Who wants to lynch Usec Rico Puno?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-09-09
Filipinos should be scandalized by the way a media and social network feeding frenzy was instigated at the expense of DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) Undersecretary Rico Puno. This piece is being written — not to defend Rico Puno or justify his further stay at the department — but to alert the public about how wild speculation could irresponsibly damage people’s names and reputations.

The immediate impact of the ABS-CBN “break in” story — alleging that Usec Puno led a “raiding” team to get sensitive papers from the late Jesse Robredo’s condo — had made it appear that Puno was up to something evil. The only fact that could be gleaned from the TV Patrol story is that Usec Puno went to Robredo’s condo with some DILG officials.

There was no proof whatsoever that Robredo was investigating Puno. There was no proof whatsoever that there was an attempted break in. On the contrary, the DILG team had duly registered with the building security desk — something only an idiot would do if he had plans to break in and steal sensitive documents. On its first installment, the seed of suspicion on the motives and character of Rico Puno were planted.

On the subsequent installments, there was even a seed of suspicion that was planted to the effect that Puno might have had a hand in the death of Jesse Robredo and the so-called Puno investigation was inferred as the reason. Rico Puno graduated from being a “paper thief” to a murderer in the first degree. Proof — zilch!

It was only on the September 7 TV Patrol when there was a semblance of a document that was presented by ABS-CBN of a supposedly anomalous gun deal. Even then, it was not established whether Puno was directly responsible — or by command responsibility — for the suspected anomaly. Meanwhile the spin was being played in social media and more people were asking for Puno’s head.

The facts became clear with the September 8 STAR story (‘Noy ordered lockdown’) where the source was Jesse Robredo’s aide — Superintendent Oliver Tanseco. Here’s a summary of what Jesse’s aide stated in the STAR news report:

1. “First of all, there was no raid. This was in accordance with the order of the President that was relayed by Usec Rico Puno on the evening of August 18 when the airplane of secretary Robredo was missing,” Tanseco said.

2. “Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director Nicanor Bartolome and several close-in staff members of Robredo were at the White House, the official quarters of the PNP chief, when President Aquino called and issued the order. There was Attorney Nina Rances, Joan dela Cruz, executive assistant, management team and another official of the PNP. Undersecretary Austere Panadero was also there,” Tanseco recalled.

3. “There was no search made, they merely took pictures of everything inside then they taped (sealed) all boxes and drawers so that nothing could be taken,” Tanseco said.
4. “We went there and told them the instructions that no one should be allowed inside, not even supposed repairmen or anyone…those were the instructions of the police. At the same time I was calling Atty. Rances informing her that all was secured in (the main office) and in the condo unit… Policemen were also posted there,” Tanseco added.

5. It was also established that the visit to the Robredo condo was done after securing the offices of the late secretary, again as per order of the president.

You don’t have to be a seasoned journalist to detect which of the two media reports, that of ABS-CBN or the STAR, was factual and which one was thin on facts and heavy with wild speculation. If this was New York City, the ABS-CBN report would have been peppered with criticisms and brickbats but this happens here because we Filipinos aren’t discerning enough and our media, like the Mafia, practice Omerta when it comes to the sins of fellow journalists.

The involvement of so many people in carrying out the orders of the president to secure the sensitive documents would inhibit any hanky-panky from being attempted. As the old joke says, Puno may look like one — but he’s not stupid. It must be noted too that many of those who were involved in the process were Jessie’s people.

My Palace sources revealed last Friday that they’re aware of investigations that Jesse Robredo was doing but not of any irregularity involving Usec Puno. It also stands to reason that President Noy Aquino (P-Noy) would not have entrusted to Puno the task of securing the sensitive papers if Puno was one of those being probed for irregularity.

The question emerges — who has been feeding ABS-CBN with the gist of these stories that have aired lately? Vice President Jojo Binay might have a suspect in mind so it would be good to ask him. VP Jojo just very recently protested a very nasty remark that was thrown his way.

The feeding frenzy has escalated and the usual suspects, the P-Noy haters, have joined the lynch mob and are spreading the even wilder speculation that P-Noy allows Puno to do the alleged anomalies. Nothing corrodes DAANG MATUWID (straight path) more than such insinuations of the president protecting crooked cronies. They haven’t even presented prima facie evidence against Puno, and now they’re going for P-Noy’s head.

Lo and behold Karen Davila resurrected (Retired) Archbishop Oscar Cruz and true to form, Cruz said a mouthful about meetings that he allegedly had with Jesse Robredo. Conveniently, Robredo is no longer around to deny such meetings. That meeting is highly improbable because Robredo would know that Cruz is a P-Noy hater and that such a meeting would not sit well with the president. In early 2011, Cruz admitted that he had links with P-Noy destabilizers and even predicted that People Power, with the backing of a military force, would oust P-Noy.

Are these people who have been promoting this feeding frenzy against Usec Rico Puno aware that their actions are now affecting the president — or is it a case of they simply don’t care?

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo