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Mystery after death of revered Philippine official

Jesse-RobredoMANILA: The death of a respected Philippine politician was back in the spotlight Friday after reports said one of his subordinates had tried to enter his condominium unit just a day after he died.

The incident has raised concerns over the death of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, a reformist advocate who was widely mourned after he was killed in a plane crash on August 18.

After Robredo's plane went missing, and as the hunt for his body was still underway, Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, accompanied by police aides, visited his Manila condo unit and offices, television reports said on Thursday.

The visit came to light when ABS-CBN television quoted sources as saying that Puno and his aides had arrived and tried to enter Robredo's condominium but were not allowed inside.

Puno and his aides had even recorded their names on the condominium logbook and also visited other offices of Robredo, ABS-CBN said.

The allegations were made after President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Ramon Carandang earlier revealed that before his death Robredo had been "conducting a number of very sensitive investigations", although he declined to say who or what was being investigated.

On Friday television station GMA quoted high ranking sources as saying Robredo had been investigating Puno before his death.

Anti-crime crusader Teresita Ang-See, a supporter of Robredo, was also quoted by the station as saying she knew the late minister was investigating possible anomalies in his own department.

Spokesmen for Puno and the Department of Interior, which oversees the national police force, the firefighting agencies and local government units, declined to comment on the alleged condo visit.

National police commission vice-chairman Edgardo Escueta said in an interview broadcast on ABC television on Friday, that Puno was just following President Benigno Aquino's orders to secure Robredo's papers and equipment.

"The reason they came... with Undersecretary Puno on that day was to lock up the office on the orders of our president," he said.

The station also showed footage supposedly showing Puno's aides securing the condominium unit to make sure that Robredo's papers would not be tampered with.

When asked to confirm Escueta's account, President Aquino's spokeswoman Abigail Valte said in a brief statement: "I have no information on that."

Aquino, who was elected in 2010, had recruited Robredo into his cabinet as part of his campaign to fight the endemic corruption in the Philippines.

There is widespread concern that Robredo's death will derail his anti-corruption drive.


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012



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