Puno defends self, calls accusations as ‘all lies’By Matikas Santos
MANILA, Philippines—Resigned Interior secretary Rico Puno said Friday before a Senate inquiry that the accusations against him were all lies.
Puno denied in his opening statement before the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes and laws Friday that he received “jueteng” protection money and had “raided and ransacked” the late Interior secretary Jesse Robredo’s condominium unit and offices.
Puno was implicated by retired archbishop Oscar Cruz back in 2010 as among the government officials receiving protection money from the illegal numbers game “jueteng.”
“Not a single case has been filed against me by my accusers. To this day, aside from the allegations, no evidence has been presented to support the accusations made against me,” Puno said.
“This only shows that my accusers either knowingly lied through their teeth or irresponsibly maligned my person on the weakness of their hearsay sources,” Puno said.
He added that one of his prominent accusers had admitted there was no evidence against him. “He expected other people to investigate whether what he had heard from self-confessed criminals were true or not,” Puno said.
Puno categorically stated during the hearing that he has no knowledge about any “jueteng” protection money.
On the accusation that he ransacked the office and condo unit of Robredo after going missing in a plane crash off the coast of Masbate, Puno said that it was “unfair and unfounded.”
“The accusation that I raided and ransacked the office and condo is truly unfair and unfounded. There was no such raid. It was an order [from President Benigno Aquino] to secure the office and documents,” Puno said. He added there were many witnesses from security guards and policemen who were with him.
He chose not to issue public statements on the accusations against him because that would violate “the confidential nature of [his] function.”
“As undersecretary for peace and order, I am entrusted with functions that involve strict confidence, security, and protocol. Violating the confidential nature of my function may expose people to danger or jeopardize their critical operations,” Puno said.
“I am duty bound to act with restrain and circumspection when subject to serious personal attacks in the mass media,” Puno said. “This was why I have opted not to react to speculative accusations that have been hurled against my person by some media organizations.”
Puno said that his decision to remain silent was taken by many as a sign of guilt.
“My silence has been propagated to be a sign of guilt. Instead of demanding the accusers to prove their accusations, some sectors of media require me to prove my innocence, this has become a sad reality of our society,” Puno said.
“I can face anyone in their eyes and show that all these are all lies,” he added.