Press Release
January 13, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) warned today that Malacañang may be grooming Antipolo City Congressman Ronaldo Ronnie Puno to become the next secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in order to influence, if not to directly manipulate, the result of the proposed plebiscite on charter change (Cha-Cha).

If Puno gets to assume the DILG post, then we may be seeing a replay of GMAs appointment of Virgilio Garcillano to the Commission on Election (Comelec), which we all know led to massive cheating in the 2004 elections, Pimentel said.

Pimentel, who authored the Local Government Code of the Philippines and who had also served as DILG secretary, also pointed out Punos scandal-tainted stint at the DILG during the time of President Joseph Estrada.

I see something sinister in the appointment to the DILG of Puno which is currently being floated in the media. To appoint Puno at a post which he dragged into controversy after controversy in the past will be a very big mistake for the administration since he is known as an operator in the shadiest meaning of the word, the senator added.

Pimentel said the administration is delusional if it thinks it can get away with rigging the result of the proposed plebiscite for cha-cha, when it is not yet off the hook in as far as massive cheating in the 2004 presidential and vice presidential elections is concerned.

Malacañang sources say that Puno wanted political payback in the form of an appointment to the DILG for his self-proclaimed role in getting Arroyo elected.

Why cant this administration be honest for once. Was the Hello Garci scandal not enough that it is now thinking of manipulating the proposed plebiscite for charter change in its favor? Pimentel asked.

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