MANILA, Philippines - If she is privy about any investigation the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo may have been conducting on his controversial undersecretary Rico Puno, Justice Sec. Leila De Lima has chosen to keep mum about it.
This, even as she admitted that Robredo, who was a colleague and personal friend, would tell her every now and then of certain investigations his office was doing against certain personalities "in confidence."
"In the same manner that I get to bare to him certain things. Meron din siyang mga ibang kinukwento pero mahirap mag-ano ngayon. Lalaki nang lalaki ang ganyan," she said.
De Lima also chose to keep her silence on whether President Benigno Aquino gave her specific instructions to secure Robredo's offices and condominium unit on the night of the crash when she called him to say vital documents may need to be secured.
In Russia, Aquino said he was the one who instructed Puno to "seal the office" of Robredo to ensure that vital records remain "intact."
Puno's attempts to get a hand on Robredo's papers earned the ire of various sectors in the wake of revelations that he himself was being investigated by the late DILG chief for alleged anomalies.
Aquino said he gave the instructions to Puno after De Lima called him up.
"At this point, I don't want to be making statements on that yet. I dont want to be making comments on that yet because, you know, I have first to think about the possible repercussions. It's not that we're concealing something, there's nothing to conceal here, only that you have to understand our position as Cabinet secretaries," De Lima said.
She said she called Aquino sometime between 8 and 9 p.m. on August 18, the day Robredo's plane crashed off Masbate, after a member of Robredo's staff informed her of the possible need to secure vital documents.
"I did remind the President about the need to secure documents that may have been in the possession of Secretary Jesse in light of certain investigations that his office was conducting because a staff of Secretary Jesse reminded me of the need to secure them," she said.
"I think it behooves us to take the necessary safeguards.... anything is possible. If sensitive matters are being investigated by someone like Secretary Jesse, and he was in a position to really make such investigations, then kailangan lang naman maging maingat. You know, you can never tell. Unscrupulous elements might resort to something like that," De Lima said.
She also confirmed having been requested by Robredo's wife, Leni, to secure their personal belongings in the family's condominium unit in Quezon City.
The justice chief said nothing can bar the Senate from investigating Puno's attempts to "raid" Robredo's offices and condominium unit in the wake of reports Senators are keen on initiating one.