MANILA (UPDATE) – Senator Miriam Santiago on Friday said a letter sent by an anonymous person raising concern over resigned Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno's alleged family's influence in Aquino government has caught her attention.
The letter, which was also sent to journalists, alleged that Puno and a number of his relatives were given high posts in government.
"We, politicians, are habituated to receive these anonymous complaints. Sometimes, they are talking through their hats, but this letter can be either confirmed or denied with respect to the factual details that it supplies," Santiago said during the Senate hearing on the alleged anomalous procurement of firearms by the Philippine National Police.
The letter stated that the following relatives of Puno were given positions in government:
- Romina Puno (daughter) - Bureau of Immigration
- Patrick Escalona Puno (brother) - PAGCOR Vice President for Procurement
- Marco Puno Santiago (nephew) - with the rank of Assistant Secretary, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office
- Adolfo Escalona (cousin) - Executive Director, Road Users' Board
- Ma. Angela Escalona Ignacio (cousin) - Commissioner, Governance Commission for GOCCs, Department of Finance; current Director of UCPB; former VP PDIC
At the latter part of the hearing, Puno admitted that all the mentioned relatives held positions in government. He noted that his daughter Romina, got in the BI by applying, while his brother Patrick, already resigned in 2010.
Customs post, badmouthing Miriam
Puno denied the anonymous letter-sender's claim that he has been telling his friends, relatives and select colleagues that his next destination, following his resignation as Interior undersecretary, is the Bureau of Customs.
He also denied badmouthing Santiago, who has been critical of Puno and his supposed influence over President Aquino.
Quoting the letter-sender, Santiago said: "He (Puno) has been telling incredible tales about you, your husband's gambling habits and your alleged anomalous projects and your dealings in your husband's province."
"He's also telling his friends, he will do everything to destroy [Customs Deputy Commissioner] Horacio Suansing, your cousin. Suansing will be out of Customs by December," the letter further stated.
Puno belied all reports that suggested he went to the condominium unit of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo allegedly to steal or destroy documents pertaining to a supposed anomalous firearms deal.