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New post for ex-Usec Puno still 'under consideration' – Aquino
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III said any future position to be offered to resigned Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno is still "under consideration" amid a pending probe on an allegedly anomalous rifles contract for the Philippine National Police.

Aquino was asked on Monday to confirm reports that Puno will likely be transferred to the Department of Agriculture.

"At this point, everything is under consideration. We will finish first the things that we have been checking on, like the rifles (deal), for instance," the President said.

Puno’s name was dragged into a controversial deal for M4 rifles where only one bidder participated.

Aquino ordered a halt in the bidding process after he made an online check on the prices of M4 rifles and found out that the bid price was more than double the online price.

The procurement service of the Department of Interior and Local Government, however, still proceeded with a post-evaluation of the lone bidder despite the President's orders.

Aquino said he wants to know whether Puno and other DILG and PNP officials allowed the process to continue despite his order ("pinalusot") or whether they simply forgot to tell the procurement service not to push through with the post evaluation.

The President said he has yet to find a replacement for Puno after the person he considered for the post appeared to be not ready to take on the job.

Aquino earlier revealed that he has asked PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome to consider retiring early, not only to occupy the post vacated by Puno but also to afford the next police chief enough time to prepare for the 2013 midterm elections.

Bartolome will retire in March next year, and the President will not be able to make a permanent replacement as it will already be covered by the appointments ban during elections.

If Bartolome decides to finish his term, Aquino said this will give his successor barely two months to ensure clean and orderly elections next year.