Why Rico Puno was targeted from Day 1
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-09-13
Last Tuesday, I was given a full briefing on the Rico Puno controversy the alleged “raid” and “break in” at the Robredo condo, the alleged arms deal anomaly, the trip to Israel and the alleged investigation on Puno. Now, I am offering a P100,000 friendly bet to anybody who still wants to insist that Rico Puno — a clear victim of malicious intrigue and vilification — is guilty of wrongdoing on any of those fabricated issues.

Read my lips:

1. There was no raid or break in at the Robredo condo. Puno went there consistent with orders that he had received from President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) to secure the sensitive papers of the late Jesse Robredo. Puno went to the condo after Chief PNP (Philippine National Police) Nicanor Bartolome relayed to Puno further instructions to also secure papers in the Robredo condo. Clearly, Puno was acting like a good soldier.

2. There was no Puno accountability in any PNP arms deal. Puno sat as an observer — with no voting power — in the processes of the BAC (Bidding and Awards Committee) to ensure that DAANG MATUWID (straight path) is upheld. In fact, the bidding processes were all accomplished according to legal procedures. There was also no favoritism for any supplier. Some suppliers were disqualified after failing to submit complete bid requirements, like an Israeli supplier that submitted a surety bond instead of the required cash bond.

3. Puno’s trip to Israel was a family vacation to the Holy Land, all 8 of them, and not in anyway linked to the arms deal. There was nothing surreptitious in all this — Puno applied for personal leave at the department and he paid for all the expenses.

4. Puno isn’t accountable for an overpricing that didn’t occur. The difference between prices that can be seen on the internet and bid prices were normal costs that apply to country requirements — like taxes, duties and other added specifications.

Those are the bare facts. Now, the question must be asked — how come all these were presented in a totally different light that made Rico Puno appear as a monster and a Palace Rasputin? Is this the result of incompetence or outright political sabotage? I think it’s both.

Now, Senator Miriam Santiago insists on investigating Puno even when the bare facts have absolved this clear victim of a malicious vilification campaign. In a September 2010 Senate hearing on jueteng, Santiago ranted, as she’s inclined to do, and accused Puno of being a jueteng (illegal numbers game) lord protector. She proved nothing. In this Friday’s investigation, she now vows to unmask the “big man” supporting Puno, inferring that P-Noy cannot say no to this patron. This is sheer bovine ordure.

P-Noy never bothered to ask Puno to resign simply because he knew that he wasn’t guilty of any wrongdoing and was merely the target of political intrigue. P-Noy is very conscious of the image of DAANG MATUWID and will not keep anyone whose actuations will smear this image. It’s precisely this image of DAANG MATUWID that had become a target of P-Noy’s political enemies.
Puno is not a sacred cow in this administration, as what the ‘evil eyes’ have been trying to project. In fact, Puno’s transfer to a simpler task was decided some 6 weeks before Robredo died. That’s why P-Noy was certain that he could allow Mar Roxas a free hand to fill all appointed positions in the department.

It’s wished that Senator Miriam Santiago would conduct her investigation outside the Senate, where she isn’t protected by parliamentary immunity. No Senator has the right to rant and slander any person and should be made to account for her actuations. Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile already discouraged the investigation and so why is Miriam Santiago so hot to pursue it? We cannot blame Enrile if has had enough of Santiago’s rant during the impeachment trial.

Why was Rico Puno targeted from Day 1? The more plausible explanation was that vested interests like jueteng lords, drug lords, big crime syndicates feared that Puno would be P-Noy’s point man in the PNP for paving DAANG MATUWID. In fairness to Puno, he has followed his instructions from P-Noy without fail.

Some members of the opposition are now claiming that with Puno out — the PNP will be used to bolster the presidential dream of Mar Roxas. Some of them are even saying that now we will see jueteng money flow back again.

This Puno controversy could have been nipped in the bud early on if some administration officials associated with Balay had spoken at the right time with the truth. Review the timeline of what they WHAT THEY SAID, FAIL TO SAY and DIDN’T WANT TO SAY and you’ll ask if these administration officials were simply incompetent in preventing an unnecessary issue or were they involved in what can be construed as sabotage to get rid of Puno.

They, not Puno, are the real Rasputins. They can, wittingly or unwittingly, inflict serious damage on the P-Noy administration. A very dangerous game they play.

* * *

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

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