House drops probe into Puno involvement in PNP arms purchaseBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Resigned Interior Undersecretary Rico E. Puno will no longer be interrogated by the House of Representatives in connection with his participation in the purchase of some P1 billion worth of pistols for the Philippine National Police.
Representative Angelo Palmones of the AGHAM partylist said the committee on public order and safety opted to drop its inquiry after Puno appeared before a related Senate investigation headed by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Friday.
“The House investigation on the procurement of firearms will no longer push through,” Palmones told the Inquirer by phone Friday night.
Palmones said he himself reviewed the proceedings at Santiago’s committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws, and was convinced there was no longer a “necessity for the House to continue the probe.”
Palmones said Cebu Representative Pablo John Garcia, the House committee chairman, was “satisfied with what was discussed earlier in the Senate.”
“It was heard entirely by the Filipino people so what’s left for us to investigate?” he quoted Garcia as telling him and Antipolo Representative Romeo Acop.
Palmones and Acop had filed a joint resolution asking the chamber to look into the PNP’s procurement of nearly 60,000 Glock 17 (Generation 4) 9-mm pistols worth around P1 billion.
Malacañang earlier cleared the pistol purchase, but raised questions over another set of procurement, this time, of “overpriced” M4 rifles for the PNP. An administration source earlier told the Inquirer that the rifles deal triggered Puno’s resignation.
Palmones said he would no longer file another resolution to cover the rifles purchase, arguing that the deal has been stopped anyway.
At the Senate inquiry, Santiago assailed Puno for interfering with the procurement process even if he said he sat at the PNP’s bids and awards committee only as an “observer.” The senator noted that he was so powerful that he gathered all bidders in one meeting.
Puno, a shooting range buddy and confidant of President Benigno Aquino, claimed he “called all the proponents because we wanted the best types of firearms.”
Puno was also questioned for flying to Israel allegedly in connection with a bid for Israeli-made pistols. He claimed he went there on vacation, but was accompanied by retired PNP general Leocadio Santiago with whom he shot rifles.