PNS — Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo yesterday remained steadfast and refused to quit his post, even virtually blaming President Aquino for owning up to the responsibility over the hostage fiasco, beating him and other government officials who were involved in the botched rescue operation to the draw.
In yesterday’s hearing for the DILG’s P86.9 billion budget, Robredo was grilled by lawmakers from opposing camps on the hostage rescue at the Luneta grandstand, where eight Hong Kong travelers were killed and several others seriously wounded.
Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas told Robredo it was rather ironic it was Aquino who had to be the first to own up the responsibility on the hostage fiasco when his agency was supposedly calling the shots on the crisis.
“You should spare the President of embarrassment. Nobody is owning responsibility. I am hurting for the President. You were not owning responsibility, forcing the President to own responsibility,” said Fariñas, adding that Robredo should have at least tendered his resignation knowing it would be rejected by the President.
Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay also berated Robredo for letting Aquino own up the responsibility way ahead of them. “You should be man enough to own up the responsibility!
“In my opinion, ma’am, nobody asked him (Noynoy) to own up to responsibility,” Robredo retorted raising a howl of protest from the jampacked crowd at the Andaya Hall.
Robredo also tried to justify their bungling of the situation saying the Aquino administration is only 60 days into power.
“I am sorry Secretary Robredo, even though the Aquino administration has only been around for 60 days but the situation like what happened in Luneta cannot wait. It happened and you cannot give that as an excuse that you are only 60 days into office,” said Magsaysay. “When you are the president of this country you are supposed to appoint people who are more expert than you in the agency so that they can help and guide you in crafting and implementing government policy. When you are the president of the country, you are not sure whether you know everything. I don’t think anybody has the monopoly of wisdom and experience of geniuses that he can do everything. And therefore he has to appoint somebody for the agency,” the lady solon added.
Magsaysay said: “It saddened me that the President of the country takes over the PNP. It is a reflection that probably he did not make the right choice in choosing the people who will handle his Cabinet as far as the DILG is concerned. Don’t you think that is a reflection that he has to take over because he does not have full trust and confidence in your organization, whether it is you Secretary Robredo or Undersecretary Ric Puno?” Magsaysay added.
Lagman for his part, asked Robredo why he should not inhibit himself in the investigating body formed to probe the incident.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño demanded that Aquino take the next step by firing officials directly involved in the hostage-taking fiasco.
“It is not enough for the President to admit responsibility for the fiasco. Its time to fire DILG Usec Ric Puno, PNP Director General Jesus Versoza, and Manila Police District director Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay. The President should ensure that those directly accountable are fired if they do not have the delicadeza to resign,” Casiño said.
“President Aquino should put his friendship with Usec. Puno aside and hold him accountable, considering that he was personally assigned by the President to handle the PNP, in effect undermining DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo’s authority,” he added.
“Puno is known to be President Aquino’s campaign ground commander, shooting buddy and fellow gun enthusiast. But he’s apparently not qualified to handle police affairs. The current short-circuited DILG set-up was a major factor in the bungled rescue and other slip-ups in the DILG,” Casiño said.
Malacañang yesterday confirmed reports that Robredo, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje were all appointed by Aquino only in an acting capacity and therefore are not subject to confirmation by the Commission on Appointments by the 15th Congress.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the President will be able to explain about it in the press briefing that he may host with Palace reporters this week.
All Cabinet appointments are, however, on an acting capacity, and only when they are confirmed by the CA that assume full status.
Lacierda also explained that he is still awaiting the list of Cabinet secretaries whose appointments are subject to confirmation by the CA to be furnished by the Office of the Executive Secretary.
In a follow statement he issued to Palace reporters, Lacierda was only able to speak on the case of Robredo in which he said: “Secretary Robredo was appointed Acting Secretary of DILG since July 9. No need for confirmation and he enjoys his (Aquino’s) trust.”