MANILA, Philippines - Did President Benigno Aquino III ask Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Rico Puno to resign?
Aquino did not confirm the news but said he had talked to his trusted appointee at the DILG before the latter’s resignation last month. This was after Puno came under fire for visiting DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo’s condo unit in Quezon City a day after his plane crashed in Masbate.
Aquino opened up about Puno after being asked about perceptions that the Chief Executive is protective of his friends including the so-called “kaibigan, kaklase, kabarilan.”
“Let's talk abut Rico Puno and what is he being accused of. He performed all of the roles I asked of him,” Aquino said in an interview with Rappler’s Maria Ressa.
He said that during the Manila hostage crisis in 2010, Puno was able to accomplish his tasks at the DILG. At the time, Puno had supervisory control of the Philippine National Police as undersecretary for peace and order.
However, Aquino said: “The person I asked to supervise this other officer did not do the job as well as I thought.”
Aquino also said he talked to the DILG undersecretary due to intense media speculation about Puno’s visit to Robredo’s condo last August. At the time, Puno had yet to issue a statement about the visit.
“Actually I said [your] family might go under a lot of stress. They might get to me through you,” he said.
The President did not say that he hinted Puno should resign. However, he also noted that he and Puno’s mother come from the same province and they have lots of social visits.
He also said Puno’s family “did not volunteer” for all the hardships and media speculation being thrown at the DILG undersecretary.