IN THE KNOW
This was how Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago described Ronaldo Puno in her 2010 privilege speech titled “The Avatar of Corruption.”
Santiago said Puno had been “living up to his self-proclaimed reputation as a political operator, meaning a person who manipulates his principal into the belief that electoral fraud and subsequent government corruption will result in victory.”
In her speech, Santiago warned that Puno’s “disturbing tactics” could lead to violence and fraud in the 2010 elections.
Santiago, who was then running for a Senate seat, accused Puno of being behind complaints lodged against her in the Commission on Elections.
She charged that Puno was “out to destroy her reelection bid” because she had recommended cases against him in the Office of the Ombudsman, as well as against his brother Rodolfo, whom she accused of misspending billions of pesos in road users’ tax.
She also cited Puno’s disturbing schemes such as the “ominous transfer of the fighting capability” of the Philippine National Police to Metro Manila, referring to the transfer to the capital of the headquarters of the Special Action Force (SAF) and the heavy weapons of the SAF, including a .50-cal. machine gun and .30-cal. machine gun, as well as the order to transfer local police chiefs starting in key provinces such as Pangasinan, Cavite, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales and Leyte.
Santiago and Puno have been at loggerheads since the presidential election of 1992 during which Santiago ran for but lost the presidency to Fidel Ramos.
She accused Puno, then aligned with Ramos, of being one of the architects of a vote-padding and -shaving scheme that she claimed robbed her of electoral victory.
During his stint as head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government in the Estrada administration, Puno was linked to three irregular transactions—the Motorola, Mahogany and handcuffs deals.
The P200-million Motorola deal allegedly involved the awarding of the contract for phases 4 and 5 of the communication project to his relatives.
The P16-million handcuffs deal involved the alleged overprice of 41,297 pairs of handcuffs, while the P7.2-million Mahogany deal was in connection with the awarding of the exclusive right to conduct drug testing on police officers to Mahogany Medical and Pharmaceutical.
In 2006, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed Puno, who was behind her campaign in the 2004 presidential election, her interior secretary. Inquirer Research
Sources: Inquirer Archives