What Oliver Tanseco told me about going to Jesse Robredo's condo
The day before Rico Puno resigned as Department of Interior and Local Governments undersecretary, I was able to interview Oliver Tanseco – the police officer who had accompanied Puno to the residential condo of the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Robredo had introduced me personally to Police Superintendent Tanseco in April 2011 as one of the channels through which to communicate to his office. I sensed that Tanseco had Robredo’s trust.
Why is it important to verify the truth surrounding the condo visit of armed cops on the Sunday morning of August 19?
I can think of three reasons why – despite what Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said about the media fussing over nothing.
First, since I talked to Tanseco last Monday, at least three other conflicting versions of the same event have been told the public. I want to know why.
Second, sometimes it’s small incidents like these that expose much bigger things. Remember it was a break-in which uncovered the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of a sitting US President. Before anyone jumps on that last statement, I am not implying anything else by saying it.
Finally third, I found the unannounced and unauthorized visit to the residence of a missing top government official highly shocking. Recall that at that time, the public was riveted on finding Robredo alive, perhaps drifting on a piece of wreckage or swept to a remote island. Unknown to us all, here was Robredo’s underling showing up with not just one or two policemen but a sizable number of armed cops at the private residence of the missing Robredo that Sunday August 19. Offhand, it’s highly unusual for government officials to be on O.B. (official business) on a Sunday.
I’m wondering what those documents inside Robredo’s condo contained. One media report said De Lima later turned them over to Robredo’s widow. Is this true?
Broadcast network ABS-CBN had called the incident an attempted raid. To me it did look like an aborted police raid.
And if the idea all along was really to secure the condo and anyone inside from harm, my hubby Alan pointed out to me that the least the group could have done was leave someone behind to guard the premises. Isn’t it strange no one was left behind to guard the door of the condo?
And so I phoned Tanseco last Monday Sept 10 since he was a participant and eyewitness. But I did not write the Tanseco interview right away because I wanted to verify some things he had said. Instead, I uploaded President Benigno Aquino’s lengthy press briefing in Vladivostok.
The next day Tuesday, I had no time to write the piece again because I had to file a story on the aborted arms deal involving Puno for South China Morning Post (HK).
When Puno abruptly resigned Tuesday afternoon, I thought Tanseco’s story had been overtaken by events.
I was wrong. Portions of Puno’s version of the August 19 events contradicted those of Tanseco.
I phoned Tanseco and told him that Puno had resigned and issued a time-line which said that on August 19 at:
0930 H (9:30 am) Informed by Superintendent Tanseco that there were documents inside the residence/condominium of the Secretary.
1000 H (10:00 am) Led team to secure Secretary Robredo’s condominium unit; stayed in condominium lobby; instructed team to sign condominium log book to document our presence; left condominium after about 20 minutes. [Note: The highlighting in red is mine.]
I reminded Tanseco that he had told me that: