DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno linked to blacklisted international arms dealer

You’d think that a meeting with China with which the Philippines is in the middle of a military showdown over rival claims on several groups of islands in the West Philippine Sea would be high on the agenda for the Philippine president. That Philippine President Benigno “BS” Aquino III could actually find the time to “clarify” a few things about Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Rico Puno’s recent actions and yet fail to meet with China leader Hu Jintao in Vladivostok during a meeting of Asia Pacific heads of state last week describes the sort of priority Aquino puts on adding his personal touch when it comes to taking care of friends and family. Nobody could’ve said it better than the Inquirer.net Editor herself…

To have the President himself make excuses for you, while you studiously avoid the probing media: That is a very cozy work arrangement Puno has. We wonder, What is it exactly that recommends him to President Aquino’s good graces?

This much we know; almost every time Puno surfaces in media reports, it is seemingly to test either the meaning or the outer limits of the tuwid na daan, the straight and narrow path the second Aquino presidency is committed to.

That op-ed piece also listed a number of items that colour Puno’s career in the service of the Second Aquino Administration since BS Aquino’s ascent to power in 2010 — his figuring in the fatally-botched rescue effort that resulted in the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists in August 2010, and his links to the country’s jueteng (illegal numbers game) underworld (nasty stuff we had highlighted long ago and brought to light again recently). Most recent is Puno’s suspiciously-timed attempt to “secure” his boss’s, the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo’s, private condominium shortly after the news of his (later to be known fatal) plane crash broke.

An ABS-CBN News report, reveals a DILG report that could possibly have been the object of Puno’s thwarted raid. The report documents on-going investigation into what are described as allegedly “anomalous” dealings with weapons manufacturer Israel Military Industries involving the “planned purchase of assault rifles by the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) that involved two procurements of nearly P178 million and P213 million.” The document reportedly links Puno to the deal.

The document shows Puno travelled to Israel upon the invitation of weapons manufacturer Israel Military Industries.

Puno was accompanied by former SAF chief Director Leocadio Santiago, defense and security company owner Reynaldo Espineli, and Puno’s consultant, Ramiro Lopez III.

The DILG report says Puno’s group left for Israel on May 10, the same date of the second pre-bid conference for the purchase of short firearms.

It cites a possible conflict of interest, since Puno and Lopez were both members of the bids and awards committee.

The report also says specifications of the assault rifles seem to have been amended to favor a particular bidder.

Interestingly, Israel Military Industries (IMI) is noted by Transparency International as suffering a ten-year blacklist imposed by the Indian government over a corruption scandal there. Israel is a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. However, its government reportedly has so far failed to meet the requirements of the Convention with regard to the enforcement of its tenets.

Countries that have signed the convention are required to put in place legislation that criminalises the act of bribing a foreign public official. The OECD has no authority to implement the convention, but instead monitors implementation by participating countries. Countries are responsible for implementing laws and regulations that conform to the convention and therefore provide for enforcement. The OECD performs its monitoring function in a two-phased examination process. Phase I consists of a review of legislation implementing the conventions in the member country with the goal of evaluating the adequacy of the laws. Phase 2 assesses the effectiveness with which the legislation is applied.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has since initiated a Senate probe on Puno, even inviting Robredo’s wife attorney Maria Leonor Robredo to attend. The probe is scheduled to start on the 14th of September…

Santiago earlier said Puno should explain why he was at Robredo’s condominium a day after the latter’s plane crashed off the waters of Masbate.

The others invited are: Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. who took over the DILG reins as interim chief; Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, who said Robredo was also having a probe on illegal logging; Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who was asked to secure Robredo’s condominium a day after the plane crash; DILG Secretary-designate Mar Roxas; PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome.

Interestingly, Santiago also invited former Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz. It was Cruz who earlier tagged Puno to the illegal numbers game.

A possible avenue to investigate is Puno’s personal cash holdings vis-à-vis his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). The impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona had set a precedent around gaining more transparency with regard to the foreign currency bank accounts of top Philippine government officials which, under Philippine law, are held to be absolutely secret.

Indeed there are many ways to skin a cat now that many “creative” ways to tar and feather government officials have been developed by the Aquino Government over the last six to eight months. What goes around comes around.

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the Wikipedia.org article “OECD Anti-Bribery Convention” in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]

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27 Comments on “DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno linked to blacklisted international arms dealer”

  1. wag tayong magalala. hanggang si aquino ang presidente at hawak nya ang lahat, walang korupsyon na mangyayari. sinabi na pinayagan ng presidente na isecure ang dilg kay puno.

    1. maganda ang pinakita at sinabi ng presidente nitong APEC summit.

      Aquino to APEC counterparts:
      Protectionist
      policies will only
      worsen global
      economic crisis

      Pres
      Aquino reports
      overture to co-
      build geothermal
      power plant in Chile, interest in
      hiring Filipino
      teachers.

      1. I am going to deal with the vacuous idiocy of N/A’s presence at the APEC meeting later on this evening, be sure to check it if you actually want to grow a clue.

        1. I thought you were going to say “vacuous presence of N/A’s idiocy”; it’s applicable too, you know 😛

    2. Dapat tayong magalala. Hanggang si panot ang presidente at hawak niya ang lahat, may korupsyon parin na nangyayari. Linoloko mo lang ang sarili mo kung naniniwala ka na walang korupsyon kay Panot.

    3. dapat tayong magalala. hanggang si aquino ang presidente at hawak nya ang lahat, may korupsyon na mangyayari. sinabi na pinayagan ng presidente na isecure ang dilg kay puno.

    4. kulit mo fishball, matindi na talaga ang pagkalulong mo kay N/A, hindi kaya ikaw mismo si N/A? kasi talagang paniwalang-paniwala ka na malinis at matino si N/A eh.

  2. Punogate
    Even a trainee cop could spot more holes in the p-noy/de lima cover up story than in a piece of swiss emmental cheese.

    FG Puno starting to make FG arroyo look good.

    The ‘blood brothers’ of hacienda luisita protecting each other.

    Putting a corrupt arms dealer in charge of a billion peso contract is like leaving an alcoholic in charge of a bar.

    Bet Mar Roxas wont let Puno organise his air travel

    It seems puno’s payoff was in guns not cash which would be easier to hide and no problem for him as an arms dealer to sell. Typical israeli method. It was done in the UK this way in the 90’s.
    Are the senate going to be compliant and play dumb or ask the obvious and tough questions.
    Will shady puno even turn up!
    No doubt pressure on leni robredo to decline. A kris aquino contract for the daughter!!!
    Judge position in balance!!
    What a sick society

  3. the uk ministry of defence bsnned and punished IMI – puno’s chosen supplier – for corruption!!!!

    “The defence ministry has shown its intent to
    tackle murky arms deals head on.
    The ministry has punished Israeli Military
    Industries (IMI) by encashing bank
    guarantees of Rs224 crore for violating an
    integrity pact in the contract to set up a plant
    to produce bi-modular charge systems, a
    propellant for 155 mm guns, at Nalanda in
    Bihar.
    This is the first instance of an arms company
    being punished for dishonouring an integrity
    pact, a mandatory agreement required to be
    signed under defence procurement rules by
    the firms to ensure they would not adopt
    corrupt practices to procure contracts.
    Union Defence Minister A K Antony and Army
    Chief Gen V. K. Singh during the annual Army
    commander’s conference in New Delhi
    The IMI was among the six firms banned by
    the defence ministry recently after CBI alleged
    it was involved in paying illegal gratification to
    Sudipta Ghosh, former director general of
    ordnance factories.
    The IMI had signed a Rs1,200 crore contract
    to set up bi-modular charge systems (BMCS)
    plant at Nalanda but work could not progress
    because of allegations of corruption against IMI”
    UK DAILY MAIL

  4. They are called “Merchants of Death”. Those arm dealers. Arm dealing, whether legal or illegal is a very profitable business. Most of the arms dealers that sell arms to third world countries, like us; are of Shady characters. Because the business is very profitable…The written “done deal” may be the documents that Former Sec. Puno is looking for in Robredo’s condominium. Some Arms deals, may already have been a done deal. With million of pesos in commmissions (“porsiyento”). Ah, Pobre Pilipinas!!! The incident stinks, like a rotten fish. No matter how you sanitize it. I may PUKE (throw up), by thinking of it .

  5. puno et al pushed through arming pnp so that there would be a big fat contract.
    step back – why arm these corrupt cops who are not the brightest. seems to me crime and killings will increase when boys have deadly toys.
    what next barangay officials!!!

  6. OMG i’d like to see this badly taken care of by Sen. Santiago. I’d like to see their faces when she bombards them with those witty questions and then she gets dumb ass answers.

    The suspense is killing me like the same feeling of Pacman fights before (:

  7. There is no corruption in BSA’s government?

    The real truth is finally revealed. Yes Santa… there is systemic corruption in the Philippine government. The tip of the iceberg was already revealed in past posts.

    How shall we call the “organization”? The K-team or K-Mafia? The color of corruption is yellow. The L sign no longer stands for Laban. It now stands for Linlangin or Lokohin.

    Slush funds without the coverage of COA auditing or accounting; commissions and kickbacks from projects and procurement; Pork selective “adjustments” in favor of pro-yellow and against the opposition; sudden mansions, condominiums, etc. and excessive lifestyles which are not investigated because of special relations with BSA; “ghost” employees and beneficiaries in employment/hiring and mendicancy programs; continued coddling and favoring the K-team as the “elite guard” of the great leader, BSA.

    Don’t forget the “missing” containers and under the table deals in the BOC and the different mafia groups in all departments of the “Daang Matuwid” government.

  8. Illegal arms dealing…..I’m impressed that our beloved Yellow leader has surpassed his predecessor’s corrutption (alleged if I may add. What’s next,clandestine nuclear weaponry?

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