Puno backs out

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — INTERIOR and Local Governments Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno yesterday announced his withdrawal from the race for the vice presidency in 2010 saying he was setting aside his personal ambition to continue serving in the Arroyo Cabinet.

“I am withdrawing my bid to become the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines in order to remain with the people in the public service who have shown me by their example what it means to be a public servant,” the DILG chief announced in Camp Crame.

Puno declared his availability for the vice presidential race last May 26. Yesterday, he said he is putting aside his personal ambition. “Since then, I have gone all over the country and I found out essentially what our people needed, what the people look forward to.”

“As I went from province to province, I could not help but be inspired by the continuing hope I can see in the hearts of everyone. In the aftermath of the global meltdown, of the many calamities, we saw that our people are really a resilient people, a strong people. It led me to reflect on whether it is more important to aspire for better things in the future, or to look back and see where we have been, and actually make a decision and a choice. Do we defer our concerns from the problem that we face today? Do we put aside the suffering that we see amongst our people? Do we set aside the difficulties we see in order to aspire for new roles in the future? “

He said that at this point of his public career, “I don’t believe that there is no more important thing to do than to be with you, to continue to face the challenges, and for us all to do whatever we can to meet the disasters and the calamities.”

Puno has long been considered as a shoo-in for the Lakas-CMD candidate for vice president in 2010 with Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. as the standard bearer.

According to Camp Crame officials, Puno’s announcement virtually doused cold water on speculations that there will be a change of command in the Philippine National Police once he files his candidacy on November 30. Puno is known for his very strong support for PNP chief Director General Jesus A. Verzosa whom he has repeatedly commended for his strong leadership and successful transformation program.

Puno made the announcement at the opening of a DILG conference on disaster preparedness in Camp Crame attended by top officials of the DILG, PNP, Bureau of Jail Management and the Bureau of Fire Protection.

“I want you all to speak with one another, to discuss with one another, to realize that we will all be in this together. No more talk of any candidacy of any sort as I will dedicate myself in the remaining months of the Arroyo presidency in serving the people,” he said.

Puno last Wednesday sent additional police rubber boats to Northern Luzon to help in search, rescue and relief operations in the event typhoon ‘Ramil’ makes its landfall.

He said that since last September 26, the day tropical storm “Ondoy” hit Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon , “vivid memories of the disaster” continue to hit his mind.

“I was a witness myself to the bravery of many of our men and women in the DILG to save the lives of those who are in danger,” he said citing the heroism displayed by officers and men of the DILG, the PNP, BJMP and the BFP during the devastation brought by “Ondoy” and “Pepeng.”

“During those days, without having so much time to think, all of us were together trying to do what we could do. Today, we are here to work out a formula and approach that we all can adopt to prepare for the challenges in the future,” he said.

“We face the serious challenges of a changing planet, a changing world. This is not the world we grew up in, not the climate we are raised to. But it is a reality that we must all face, by our children and all our children’s children. I hope that in the months to come, we should be able to continue this, to face the challenges,” he added.