Puno: Too hot to handleBy Malou Guanzon-Apalisok
Cebu Daily News
Despite the controversies swirling around resigned interior undersecretary Rico E. Puno, President Benigno Aquino III is said to be thinking of a “nice and quiet job” for his shooting buddy.
The news item had me wondering whether or not the President is just moved by a debt of gratitude for Puno who is said to have helped P-Noy during his stint as congressman, senator and as presidential candidate in 2010.
The ties that bind them are quite tight and perhaps the President had proved on some occasions that Puno is one person who will take a bullet for him. We cannot begrudge a person for standing by a friend, but the President should realize he cannot remain indebted to someone who has already been well and fully paid.
As we know, President Aquino appointed Puno as Undersecretary with powers over the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the Bureau of Fire Protection. The other half of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) territory, which is in the matter of supervising local government units and officials, went to the late secretary Jesse M. Robredo.
For someone who does not possess sterling credentials, getting a Cabinet position may be likened to winning the lotto. In that sense, bayad na bayad na si P-Noy kay Puno.
But yet, I don’t recall an incident where Puno enhanced the administration through his work in the DILG as a way of helping the President and proving his (Puno’s) loyalty. Some people are driven to show their wares in order to disprove skeptics but in the case of Puno, he has only brought P-Noy all sorts of problems.
The August 2010 botched rescue operations conducted by the PNP Special Weapons and Tactics team ended in the death of a number of Hong Kong nationals. It is not a coincidence that somebody in the DILG who has no background on law enforcement was in charge of the PNP.
The charges aired by anti-jueteng advocate, retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz that Puno is on the take of jueteng lords have many people wondering whether this is the reason the administration is holding its punches against the illegal numbers game.
Asked about this particular issue by GMA 7’s Jessica Soho the other night, Puno replied, “Wala akong hinihingi, wala rin akong pinoprotektahang tao at wala rin akong kilalang nagpapa-jueteng” (I’m not asking for anything, I’m not protecting anybody and I don’t know anybody who is into jueteng), Puno said.
If Puno is saying that jueteng exists without hassles from law enforcement authorities in exchange for nothing, he really must think Filipinos are stupid.
The last straw points to Puno’s trip to Israel in May, when he met with officials of a discredited arms supplier named Israel Military Industries, Ltd. (IMI). Puno went with certain PNP officials and the Philippine representative of the said company that participated in a public bidding for the procurement of 1,500 assault rifles.
IMI had been earlier blacklisted by the Indian Defense Ministry for corrupt practices but despite this, Mr. Puno reportedly pushed for the transaction without public bidding. Subsequent media reports said the assault rifles were overpriced. After the anomalous transaction was exposed, President Aquino ordered the deal scrapped.
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I’m not sure if P-Noy watches the game of tennis by way of unwinding after a hectic day, but he can pick up a few tips from the victory of British tennis superstar Andy Murray in the US Open.
After five attempts to win a Grand Slam, the Brit raised the trophy in New York last Monday, finally putting to rest the perceived Hoodoo or curse that plagued British tennis for the past 76 years, after Fred Perry won the United Kingdom’s one and only Grand Slam in 1936.
In retrospection of Andy Murray’s patience and total commitment to the sport despite his gigantic losses in previous slams, experiences made more painful by some near wins and the pressure brought on by the Brits’ high expectation of their best bet, John Crace of the The Guardian newspaper in UK wrote that Murray does not owe anybody his victory. And because he does not owe anybody anything, he can very well choose his friends.
Murray is a certified international celebrity, earning $8 million a year before he won the gold in the London Olympics last month. With a US Open title tucked under his belt, he is expected to triple his assets through product endorsements, on top of prize monies in future tournaments and slams.
The celebrity status is a magnet for insincere people, the author suggests, and it would be well for Andy Murray to stay away from flatterers, to remain grounded and not believe everything that is thrown at him because unlike tennis balls that he can shovel back in defensive play, these things might just blow up in his face.
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Puno is clearly too hot to handle and the President would be well to distance himself from someone who has caused the administration grave controversies. He cannot stick his neck out for Puno without inviting vexing speculations.
Already, netizens are asking, Mao ba ni ang tul-id nga dan? (Is this the straight path?)
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- Lessons from Danao
- Lapu-Lapu Liberals and a pocket paradise