Huggy, huggy

“That’s unfair. It pains me because I really thought we were ok.”

No, these utterances were not those of Shalani when told she and P-Noy could no longer be an item.

They were said by DLG Secretary Jesse Robredo when accused by his underling (or co-equal depending on who you talk to), DI Undersecretary Rico Puno; of seeking to oust him.

Puno has accused five other groups- the Balay unit associated with Mar, the Samar faction linked to NoyBi supporters, a group associated with President Gloria, certain sectors of the media, and “various people interested in his post”- of doing the same. By my count that covers the full political spectrum if you exclude the Muslims in Mindanao.

Puno has been described as a political orphan with no ties to either the Liberal party or to Noy’s Ateneo batch; and no known paranoid tendencies.

His only friend in the world is the President.

When earlier contacted the Palace said “it did not  know what to make of Puno’s statements”. The matter was referred to the Presidential Legal Counsel for interpretation. Other than draft a pre-nuptial for the President, the PLC is the Constitutional entity tasked with the help of Wikipedia to review all incoherent statements of public officials, reports such as the IIRC and the Truth Commission findings, and all Supreme Court decisions.

When the President finally knew what to make of Puno’s statements, he summoned the contenders and read them the riot act: “Either you kiss and make up or one or both of you are history” is how I believe he put it. He told them he would retain them ‘despite their failure to uphold the high standards of performance”.

In what is henceforth to be called the Robredo/Puno doctrine, the President has set the bar for achievement in his Government: Either you fail to perform or you are out.

The President reminded the nation that Robredo & Puno had solved many (but not all) of the extralegal killings and dealt positively with informal settlers. He did not mention whether they had solved any of the (just) legal killings.

In a somewhat related matter, on the recommendation of his legal team of Ochoa & De Mesa, the President cleared Puno of any involvement in the eight critical incidents that the IIRC had identified as contributing to the hostage debacle.

Puno  had no authority to directly interfere in the conduct of the hostage negotiations because he was not a member of the local crisis management committee. When was that ever a deterrent for somebody like Puno?

This is the same person who volunteered to take a bullet for the President even if not authorized to do so.

Puno is clearly relieved that he has been exonerated. “ I’ll not be destroyed by those who want Noy to fail”, he said, highlighting his first name relationship with the President. Is that not what  P-Noy is supposed to say, not Puno? The Undersecretary now speaks the words of the President.

“I am ready to accept all the challenges ahead as I continue to be motivated to implement the reform agenda of our President to help the lives of Filipino people,” Puno continued in succinct fashion. Wow. Is that how real folks talk? He certainly was not as forthcoming at the Senate hearing when he suddenly had bouts of speech and memory impairment.

At the end of the day it is all good. We now have a smoothly functioning DILG with both head and co-head “acting as one” when in the eyes of the President and acting otherwise when not. Bookies and jueteng operators are taking bets how long the shotgun marriage will last. I say not as long as Shalani and P-Noy have dated.

The next step for the President is to get each of the Balay group, Samar faction, ex-Archbishop Cruz, GMA supporters, and members of the media to conduct a group hug with Puno. The latter has accused all of them of plotting against him.

All this babysitting may sound like a waste of scarce Presidential time when there are so many larger problems to address.

Not to the President. Loyalty is a big thing with him and one laudable in a friend.

The nation just has to wait.

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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