Group urges Senate to continue Puno probe

THE fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday appealed to members of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revisions of Codes and Laws, which Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago chairs to continue the investigation and cooperate with the latter in investigating the alleged anomalous activities of former interior and local government undersecretary Rico Puno.

Invoking public interest, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France urged Senators Edgardo Angara, Franklin Drilon, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Antonio Trillanes IV, Manuel Villar, Francis Pangilinan, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and ex-officio members Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Vicente Sotto to cross party lines and support the probe conducted by Santiago.

“We appeal to members of the committee to make a gallant stand in the name of truth and national interest. The former undersecretary of the DILG is being investigated with triple platinum acts of corruption in connection with numbers game scandal, fire arms deal and other anomalous activities. Please pursue and cooperate with the probe.Please be reminded that public interest compels you to do your job as senators of the Republic,” the Pamalakaya leader said in a statement.

The Pamalakaya leader issued the call after Sen. Santiago announced that she would no longer pursue a continuation of the investigation and that her committee will not make a report of yesterday’s hearing on several issues implicating the former undersecretary of the interior and local government.

“The Puno case should not be treated as first day last day movie that bombed at the box-office. The general public has big stake here and the probe must be pursued in the name of national interest and the people’s fight against corruption, political patronage abuse of power,” added France.

France said the investigation of Puno on various issues merit the active support of the members of the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws and codes. He said the senators would remiss on their duty if they snub future hearings on undersecretary Puno.

“We will not accept this kind of political default. We hope to see senators in a next hearing digging deeper into the involvement of undersecretary Puno on corruption issues including but not limited to jueteng and fire arms deal,” he added.

The group also assailed Malacanang from preventing four cabinet officials to testify in the Senate hearing sponsored by the committee of Sen. Santiago. The militant group said Malacanang invoked the notorious Eexecutive Order 464 used by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to prevent four cabinet members—environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, newly installed interior and local government chief Mar Roxas and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. from attending the hearing.

The group said the attendance of Puno in yesterday’s hearing at the Senate and the absence of senator allies and cabinet members of President Aquino was meant to humiliate Sen. Santiago and her committee.

The group last week announced they will oppose the reported transfer of Puno to Department of Agriculture, as undersecretary for livestock sector. The group hinted that Puno at the agriculture department will revive the dark past and career of former DA undersecretary Jocelyn (Joc-joc) Bolante who figured in the fertilizer fund scam and other irregularities in the department under Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

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