MANILA, Philippines – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo said President Benigno Aquino III has absolved him of responsibility in the botched rescue of Hong Kong tourists taken hostage by a former police officer on August 23.
In a press statement Thursday, Robredo thanked Aquino for explaining his role during the crisis.
“I appreciate the president’s clarification of my role as the one primarily in charge of local governments, rather than the police,” he said. “My mandate was clear from the very start and since the directive of the president is such, we will have to comply by it.”
Aquino earlier shielded Robredo from calls for the DILG secretary to avoid being part of of an inter-agency investigating team on the hostage tragedy because of his perceived lapses during the hostage drama.
Aquino said he designated DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno to be in charge of the police because he wanted Robredo to concentrate on the concerns of local government units.
Aquino said Puno should be “partly” held accountable because of the botched rescue attempt.
Robredo and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima co-chair the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) probing the Manila hostage fiasco that resulted in the killing of eight Hong Kong nationals and the hostage taker, Rodolfo Mendoza.
The IIRC’s other members are Filipino-Chinese community representative Teresita Ang See; Herman Basbaño, president of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas; and Integrated Bar of the Philippines governor for Eastern Mindanao Roan Libarios.