[PHOTO -PUNO: Malacañang
remains silent on where President Benigno S. Aquino III's controversial shooting
buddy, Rico Puno, is headed following his reported exit as undersecretary of the
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).]
MANILA, SEPTEMBER 2, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Cecille Suerte Felipe &
Aurea Calica - When the late Jesse Robredo was the secretary of the Department
of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the "interior" part of the job was
effectively outside his full control.
Instead it was the turf of DILG Undersecretary for peace and order Rico Puno,
a known gun enthusiast and shooting buddy of President Aquino.
With Manuel Roxas II taking over the DILG, the setup is being abolished. Puno
has become the first casualty of a sweeping revamp now being implemented in the
As his new designation was confirmed by Malacañang yesterday, Roxas announced
that Puno, who was in charge of the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of
Fire Protection and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, would no longer
be with the DILG.
The President reportedly gave Roxas a free hand in reorganizing the DILG and
putting in his own people.

[PHOTO -President Aquino greets new DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and DOTC
Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya during the formal announcement of their
appointment at Malacañang yesterday. WILLY
Aquino has yet to announce a new position for Puno, which sources said
yesterday may be in the Department of Agriculture.
Puno has been perceived as one of the President's most trusted officials, a
power bloc all by himself in the administration apart from the two factions –
the "Balay" identified with Roxas, and the "Samar" group identified with Vice
President Jejomar Binay and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.
Publicly, officials have denied the existence of feuding factions within the
Aquino administration.
Shortly after his appointment, Roxas acknowledged his having "big tsinelas
(slippers)" to fill.
The tsinelas leadership that Roxas was talking about was Energy Secretary
Jose Rene Almendras' description of Robredo's style of leadership –
down-to-earth and one with the masses.
Roxas, former chief of the Department of Transportation and Communications,
acknowledged the enormous task that lies ahead, including stamping out the
illegal numbers game jueteng, the illegal drug trade, kidnapping and illegal
He said that aside from the local government units, the local police were
also in need of greater support and he would think of the best ways to address
their problems.
Roxas said he and the President had a series of conversations over the past
two weeks since Robredo's death in a plane crash off Masbate on Aug. 18.
"At first he was just thinking out loud while we were in Masbate (for the
search and rescue operations that later became retrieval for Robredo). When we
found Jesse and we were on our way to Naga, the President became a bit more
serious," Roxas said.
"He told me we had to really think. And then he let it pass until after Jesse
was buried. (On Thursday), he told me that that was it," Roxas added.
He said he was thankful to the President for his trust, adding that the
responsibilities of a DILG chief were "big, wide, delicate, sensitive and
"More than this, I have big shoes, or big tsinelas, to fill. I am not Jesse
Robredo. Compared to him, I am lacking in a lot of things. But you can be sure I
will do everything I can, in all my abilities, to give respect to the legacy of
Jesse. His memory will be my guide," Roxas said.
"Transparency, accountability, people empowerment – the inclusion of ordinary
people in the decisions of local governments and even the national government –
the hallmarks of Secretary Jesse's leadership. We will continue all of these,"
he said.
Roxas also thanked Robredo's wife, Maria Leonor, for the support and
confidence she showed to him as new DILG chief.
Roxas said his decision to accept the DILG post should not be linked to his
or the Liberal Party's plans for the 2013 elections.
"I don't give it much thought. I know I can only succeed, and I told this to
the President, I will only be successful and I can only succeed whether at DOTC
or now in DILG if all thoughts of 2016 or any other electoral position was
removed from my mind. And that's what I intend to do," Roxas said. "It will be
hard to make decisions if you have other things in mind."
Most trusted
At Malacañang, Aquino said Roxas is the most qualified to continue the
reforms initiated by Robredo.
He stressed that no one else would mirror the characteristics he was looking
for in a DILG secretary but "our very own party president, Secretary Mar Roxas."

"I appealed to him, explained to him why I was appointing him. Of course, Mar
has also invested time in the DOTC, you also want to see the fruits of your
labor… You're the one who planted and by the time things were being reaped,
(you're not around)," Aquino said.
He said Roxas readily responded to his challenge to lead the DILG despite
concerns that the move could divide the Cabinet, as some of its members were
supportive of Binay, the current housing czar, who was being perceived as Roxas'
opponent in the 2016 presidential elections.
"Number one, they both share my trust… my complete trust. So that is very
important… There are so many agencies in the government and there are so many
opportunities… If you put the wrong person, he will take advantage of the
position," the President said, referring to Roxas and new DOTC chief Cavite Rep.
Joseph Emilio Abaya.
Aquino said he is confident Roxas and Abaya will not abuse their positions.

The President, during the briefing, did not hide his desire to have Roxas as
his successor.
"What's important is whoever is installed as chief, you train a successor,
someone who will replace you," Aquino said. "In a sense this will be a lesser
occupation compared to preparing for the presidency itself if you were the vice
Aquino said he was aware that the appointment of Roxas would draw criticism
from various sectors.
"Besides the never-ending criticisms, Mar is very, very capable to handle
this job and to continue – he will put in his own personal style – to really get
local governments to be our allies in addressing the problems of the nation,"
Aquino said.
"So common sense, if I put someone there who does not do his function, I only
add burden to myself… So I appointed with full confidence that he can reduce the
things I need to attend to on a daily basis. He will be of help in fixing our
country," he said.
"I suppose Secretary Roxas can demonstrate the primary function to advance
the country's interests rather than the party's interests," he added.
Show of support
The Philippine National Police (PNP) voiced its full support for Aquino's
appointment of Roxas to the DILG.
"We welcome Sec. Roxas as the new DILG chief. We will support him and we will
work with him. We will cooperate to attain his goals and objectives in the
department," PNP chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome said.
"I urge the 148,000-strong men and women of the PNP to rally behind our new
leader and patriarch in the DILG-PNP-Napolcom family."
"Secretary Roxas brings with him a wealth of executive experience and
professional competence to administer and manage the operations of the bureaus
and attached agencies under the DILG, including the PNP," Bartolome said.
In concurrent capacity as chairman of Napolcom, Roxas is in the best position
to continue the reforms initiated by the late Robredo to promote a new culture
of good governance, transparency, public accountability and people empowerment
in the PNP, according to the PNP chief.
The military, for its part, said it is confident that its partnership with
the police and the local governments will be strengthened further with Roxas at
the helm of DILG.
"We expect the reinvigoration of our engagement with the PNP, which is under
the DILG and the local governments," Armed Forces spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos
Jr. said in an interview.
"We acknowledge the PNP and the LGUs (local government units) as integral
partners in achieving the objective of our security plan – to achieve a just and
lasting peace," he added.
Burgos said they are also optimistic that the planned turnover of the lead
role in internal security operations to local governments from the military
would be hastened.
The military declares an area "insurgency free" if the strength of rebels
within its jurisdiction is too small to influence its residents and their
Once an area is declared as such, the lead role of maintaining peace and
order is transferred to local officials from the armed forces.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat urged Roxas to "muster the will to continue the
investigation started by Robredo on anomalies in the procurement process of the
PNP, Bureau of Fire Protection and other offices and prosecute those guilty."

With Roxas' "political savvy and familiarity with many local officials,"
Baguilat said he "would be in a good position to strengthen the full disclosure
policy advocacy among local government units that was started by Secretary
"I'm also hoping though that Secretary Mar will consider the late secretary's
less glamorized advocacies like the mandatory representation of indigenous
peoples in legislative councils, the access to justice project and resolving the
in-city resettlement of informal settlers," he said.
But he said Roxas "will have the unenviable burden of being compared with the
late great secretary."
Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Cebu
Archbishop Jose Palma also expressed confidence in Roxas' sincerity and
integrity as DILG chief.
"Of course Mar Roxas is a person who has been in the government for many
years. We just pray once more that knowing the task ahead, he would give his
best to continue the work done by Secretary Robredo and prove that like the
Secretary, his basic interest is for the benefit of the people and not for any
alternative motive," Palma said. With Alexis Romero, Evelyn

DILG's Roxas kicks out Puno, Jesse's men
Written by Fernan J. Angeles and Charlie V. Manalo Saturday, 01
September 2012 00:00

But Noynoy equivocal on giving Mar
powers over PNP

Newly appointed Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary
Manuel "Mar" Roxas' first marching order was to have DILG Undersecretary Rico
Puno kicked out of his agency as well as his kicking out all of the DILG
officers and staffers of the late Jesse Robredo who have been declared by Roxas
as being co-terminus with the late DILG secretary.

President Aquino
quickly told reporters that Puno will be given another position, although he
failed to mention where he was transferring Puno who was earlier given the task
by Aquino to take on the supervision of the Philippine National Police

But even as Roxas claimed that he had been given that mandate to
have full control of both sections of the DILG, which includes the PNP, Aquino
was clearly equivocal in his answer
when Palace reporters directly asked the
president if he will return to the new SILG (Secretary of Interior and local
government) the position of his handling the PNP which was earlier relegated to
Undersecretary Puno, Aquino failed to directly answer the reporter's question.

Instead, Aquino said: "Actually Secretary Jesse Robredo had a big part
in the PNP (supervision) especially now that the problems (in the PNP) have been
fixed. You know the secretary has supervision of, and is responsible for, the

"The BFP, for instance, was one of those (agencies) that
Jesse was attending to, such as the fire trucks that, if I remember correctly,
are on average 30 years old. So we were able to secure a grant, I believe from
Austria where we will get substantially cheaper fire trucks with more
capabilities. OK, so this would be upgraded. We still lack fire trucks, They are
already old, and this was one of the priorities of (Robredo).

problem is continuously brought up—especially when someone breaks out of to help us, initially, Usec. Puno might have been the action man, but
there were many decisions on the PNP made by me, including the hostage crisis.
There, I was giving out the orders.
"We are a team and a team helps each other. Initially, the Palace and DILG
Undersecretary Puno were seen coordinating and cooperating. But in most
instances, it wasn't Puno calling the shots but me — and that includes the
Manila hostage crisis"

Aquino explained that the area of concerns of a
DILG Secretary is already too wide even as he claimed that there is very little
that needs to be done in the PNP citing Robredo's policies and programs that saw
the national police improve.

Despite the probable limited power given,
Roxas does not seem to mind losing his grip over the PNP as he still wields what
many presidential hopefuls want — control over a network of politicians capable
of delivering votes.

The DILG Secretary has supervision over the
country's 80 provincial governors, 240 city mayors, 1,495 municipal mayors,
roughly 42,000 barangay chairmen and all elected officials under them.

In what appeared to be an affair seen as limited and exclusively
engaging Liberal Party members, two top government agencies saw the change in
leadership as Aquino formally announced the appointment of his defeated 2010
vice presidential running-mate Roxas as DILG chief.

Also appointed by the
President is LP Secretary General and Cavite Rep. Emilio "Jun" Abaya, who takes
over the top post vacated by their party president (Roxas) at the Department of
Transportation and Communications.

At the regular press briefing in
Malacañang, the new Interior Secretary admitted to having lesser leadership
qualities as compared to the late DILG chief Robredo, but spoke on delivering a
long list of tough priorities issued to him Aquino as his new marching

The list of "tough priorities" would engage Roxas against private
armies. In dismantling armed contingents outside of what the Constitution deems
legitimate and legal, the President gave Roxas a deadline, even as the chief
executive said that he expects results before next year's midterm

In a statement farmed out to Palace reporters, Aquino wants
his new Cabinet appointee at the DILG to seriously take on the unfinished
investigations and cases against local government officials, but gave no
particulars as to which investigations should be on top of the DILG

The President also directed Roxas to seek legal avenues in
paving the way for the upgrade of the facilities of the Bureau of Jail
Management and Penology (BJMP).

"BJMP facilities are in a sad state now
that's why it is easy for prisoners to escape," Aquino's statement

Asked how he intends to deliver results that the President wants
him to take on, Roxas averred: "The responsibilities of the DILG are very big,
very wide, and very sensitive." "More than this, I have big shoes, big tsinelas
(slippers) to fill. I am no Jesse Robredo"

Aquino appealed to the members
of the powerful Commission on Appointments to confirm at the soonest possible
time both Roxas and Abaya as Secretaries of DILG and DoTC

"They (new Cabinet appointees Roxas and Abaya) can't sit in
their respective posts until they are confirmed. While Congress is in session,
we can't make an ad interim appointment. And for this reason we ask the CA to
act on these appointments immediately."

On the DoTC portfolio, the
President directed his new point-man Abaya to put into place measures designed
for the prompt implementation of the administration's priority infrastructure
projects, with special mention on those which has something to do with

Aquino shrugged off speculations seen as pointing to the 2013
midterm elections as the factor behind the designation of two LP stalwarts in
Cabinet positions deemed as "critical".

"His primary function is to
advance the country's interest over the party's interest. Political expediency
connotes that he is not qualified and we are doing this as a favor to him,"
added Aquino even as he claimed that even before names of personalities were
pushed as good replacements of the late Secretary Robredo, he already had Roxas
in mind.

The President added that he has full trust in both Roxas and the
late Robredo.

Sought for comment over reports dragging his DILG
appointment as an off-shhot of his 2016 presidential bid, Roxas shrugged off
politics, even as he stressed the need for him to get 2016 out of his mind for
him to be able to do what has to be done at the DILG.

"I can only succeed
with all thoughts of 2016 out of my mind," Roxas said.

Meanwhile, San
Juan Rep. Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito yesterday said the appointment of Roxas as
DILG chief exposes the agenda of the LP to ensure that powerful portfolios are
given to its party mates.

"Not to undermine the capability of Secretary
Mar Roxas and (Cavite) Rep. Emilio Abaya, but I think the appointment is
obviously for the strengthening of the Liberal Party's position in the coming
2013 and 2016 elections," said Ejercito.

The San Juan lawmaker said this
given the several options for a competent and potential DILG Secretary that is
not limited to the members of the LP.

"The LP anyway does not have the
monopoly of competent, honest, and incorruptible leaders that are fit for the
position. There are also other allies of the President not necessarily from the
LP namely Vice President Jejomar Binay, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward
Hagedorn, and Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos who are all competent enough to
be DILG Secretaries," Ejercito stressed.

But considering the party's
political agenda, the San Juan solon said LP needs the hand of the DILG for its
arm of organization composing of governors, mayors, and barangay officials all
over the country.

"If (Aquino) truly considers a strong hand that will
manage both the Philippine National Police and local government units (LGUs)
with political will, Davao's Rodrigo Duterte is the best choice. Even former
PACC/PNP chief now Sen. Panfilo Lacson with whom I have a personal issue. I do
believe he has the capability to create a positive image for the DILG and PNP,"
said Ejercito.

Ejercito said this was the primary reason LP members have
been urging the President to appoint someone from their party.
"An LP member
positioned in such a key government position as the DILG is crucial for their
party's ambition for 2013 and 2016," he said.

The other day, House
Majority Leader, Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali "Boyet' Gonzales, citing political
expediency, stressed the need for an LP member to hold to the DILG

Meanwhile, a militant youth organization lambasted the appointment
of Roxas to the DILG post saying it only validates "how hypocritical and
unabashedly trapo the Aquino administration is."

"Many demand the same
brand of leadership DILG secretary Jesse Robredo was praised for — Aquino did
the exact opposite by appointing a certified trapo. This is the worst possible
tribute he could give Robredo," Anakbayan national chair Vencer Crisostomo

"Roxas' appointment smacks of patronage politics and will further
strengthen the trapo ways of government, considering that elections are fast
approaching," the youth leader added.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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