President and concurrent Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III recently appointed a new Undersecretary for Peace and Order in the DILG.
Rico Escalona Puno, the first Undersecretary to be appointed by the President, assumed his post today in a simple turn-over ceremony spearheaded by outgoing Undersecretary Marius Corpus at the DILG central office in Quezon City.
The new DILG undersecretary has been part of President Aquino’s staff since he was a Congressman and Senator. He served as Aquino’s consultant in various activities in Congress; in the Senate as officer for public order and safety, economic affairs and in local governance, as well as liaison officer for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
As undersecretary for peace and order, Puno will supervise the operations of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). The two bureaus were under the office of Undersecretary Corpus.
In his farewell message, Corpus stressed that “the present BFP and BJMP is quite different from the BFP and BJMP that I saw when I first arrived in the DILG nine years ago.”
“In our effort to professionalize the two bureaus, we introduced some changes through Republic Act 9263, which equalize the pay of BFP and BJMP officials and personnel at par with the PNP; elevated positions at the BFP and BJMP, so that regional directors of BFP and BJMP are now full-fledged regional directors,” he said.
Corpus said that it was under his watch that a new Fire Code of the Philippines was passed into law, which enabled the BFP to modernize through the use of the fire code fees. At the BJMP, new district, city and municipal jail were constructed nationwide, and inmates were able to exercise their right of suffrage adding, that in the last May 10 elections, around 17,000 inmates nationwide were able to vote.
“I hope that the two bureaus will continue their process of professionalization, and I believe they will be in good hands with the leadership of Usec Puno,” the outgoing undersecretary said.
For his part, the incoming new Undersecretary assured DILG officials and personnel, particularly at the BFP and BJMP, that he will continue the implementation of programs and projects at the two bureaus, as well as upgrade their facilities especially equipment to improve their services.
“We will try to implement the programs and projects in the way Usec Corpus has done under his watch,” he said.