MANILA - It's now a case of a story whose details seem to be evolving by the day.
The bone of contention: what really happened on Aug. 18 and succeeding days, when government was on a mission to secure the files of Sec. Jesse Robredo, whose plane had crashed in Masbate City? How was this mission carried out?
It was only on Sept. 8, in Vladivostok, Russia, on the sidelines of the APEC summit, that Pres. Aquino revealed that he instructed then Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno, a long-time friend, to secure Robredo's files. At the time, Puno was already receiving flak for days from all fronts with some sectors raising doubts on the motive behind his move to "raid" his boss' offices and condominium unit "in search of vital documents."
Puno submitted his resignation letter on Friday (Sept. 7), insisting that he was duty-bound to exercise restraint and circumspection amid all the media attacks; Mr. Aquino accepted his resignation on Tuesday (Sept. 11).
It was also on Tuesday when Puno released a timeline of the lock down on Robredo's offices and condominium unit.
Based on this timeline, Puno supervised the securing of Robredo's office at the DILG at 9 a.m. on Aug. 19; Robredo's Camp Crame office at 10:30 a.m.; and Robredo's Napolcom office at 11:30 a.m.
What Puno did
In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Sept. 12, De Lima said Puno merely watched and monitored while she was sealing and securing Robredo's offices on Aug. 19. This was the first time the justice secretary admitted she and Puno were in the same room while the mission was being undertaken. In her previous interviews, De Lima never mentioned Puno's presence.
"Yung sa offices -- DILG, Napolcom, Camp Crame -- nagmonitor siya (Puno) pero hindi siya nakialam... he was just monitoring and he did not interfere...na-monitor niya how I sealed the offices and secured the documents," De Lima said.
However, in an interview on Thursday (Sept. 13), De Lima felt the need to clarify that while she was doing the sealing and securing of Robredo's offices and files on Aug. 19, all that happened in the afternoon, while Puno did his own sealing and securing in the morning of the same day.
"I want... to clarify, I don't know kaninong article yun, pinapalabas na parang ako lang nag-seal that day, noong Aug. 19, na monitored by Usec. Puno. Hindi ba dun sa timeline na prinesent ni Puno, noong umaga, nagseal na rin sya, nagsecure na rin siya? Ako, noong hapon ako and then pumunta rin siya and witnessed or monitored from afar," De Lima said.
Based on this statement, what can be concluded is that Puno sealed and secured Robredo's offices and files in the morning; in the afternoon, De Lima did her own sealing and securing.
Which now leads people to ask: if the offices and files were already sealed in the morning, how come there was a need to seal them again in the afternoon?
Also in search for answers, the Senate will investigate the incident to get to the bottom and truth of things. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago's Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes and Laws is taking the lead.
'What is this brouhaha all about?'
De Lima does not understand why people are making a big fuss about the entire thing. It is a non-issue, she said, and a measure intended to ensure that Robredo's sensitive files are protected.
"Hindi ko alam bakit pinapalaki ang isyu ng sealing and securing. Masyado ang brouhaha dyan. It was certainly the prerogative of the President to direct a course of action like that and to direct anyone... kahit sino sa amin, whether si Usec. Puno or me or anybody else basta subordinate niya.
"Ano'ng masama doon? Masyado na kasing pinapalaki. Why? Is it because Usec. Puno is involved? Or because si Puno and inatasan?" she asked.
Puno, himself, laments how he has been portrayed in the media. His daughter, Inna, defended her embattled father on her blog.
It is unclear if Puno is attending Friday's Senate probe. But in the interest of a public that deserves a straight and clear story from those who are supposed to serve them in government, and for the sake of his troubled family, who, in all likelihood, wants him to clear his name, Puno should go, and so should all players in this complex story, to settle, once and for all, the kinks, the confusion, and what may yet be more unspoken details.