Palace still mum on Lacson as rehab czar

Posted at 12/01/13 2:26 PM

MANILA -- Malacanang remains mum on the reported appointment of former Senator Panfilo Lacson as the point person who will oversee the rehabilitation of areas affected by recent disasters, such as super typhoon Yolanda.

Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said there were considerations that the government needed to focus on.

“Ang ipinaliwanag ko po ay ‘yung mga konsiderasyon. Wala po tayong pinag-uusapan dito na partikular na indibidwal (We have considerations that we need to focus on. We are not referring to any individual),” he told radio dzRB.

He noted, however, that Lacson has a good record in public service. “Maganda naman po ang kanyang record bilang legislator at public servant,” he said.

Coloma said the rehabilitation effort is a big responsibility, considering that the country was not only beset by one major disaster, citing the Bohol earthquake and the Zamboanga standoff.

“Yan po ang tinitingnan nating sitwasyon na nagbibigay daan doon sa katanungan na paano ba ito mas epektibong mapapangasiwaan? (Those are the considerations that will push us to ask how best to resolve the situation),” Coloma said.

He also noted that Cabinet officials are already at the forefront of the rehabilitation efforts but conceded that the situation calls for a different tack.

“Nandiyan na rin po ‘yung responsibilidad ng mga kalihim ng Gabinete na nangunguna sa kanilang mga kagawaran. Pero kakaiba rin po ‘yung sitwasyon na marami po tayong kinakaharap na hamon ng pagbabagong-tatag, pagre-rehabilitate, at muling pagsasaayos o reconstruction,” he said.

In a Cabinet meeting last Friday, President Benigno Aquino III supposedly voiced his decision to tap Lacson as the rehabilitation czar.

Three ABS-CBN sources confirmed that Lacson's name came up during the meeting, but they noted there has been no formal order from the President to make him rehabilitation czar.

Sources said Lacson met with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa for two hours after the Cabinet meeting where he supposedly relayed Lacson's responsibilities.

Asked to comment on the prospect of having a rehabilitation czar, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson said, given the scale of the calamity, having a point person would definitely help with recovery efforts in typhoon-hit areas.

"We're looking at over a P100-billion reconstruction. It would be difficult to have someone do a double job. It might be more efficient to have someone also straighten the whole thing," Singson said.