WITH the appointment of former Senator Panfilo Lacson as rehabilitation czar in charge of the reconstruction of areas devastated by a recent typhoon, the government’s drive to stamp out corruption now lies in the hands of each member of President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s Cabinet, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Monday.
Lacson was supposed to head an anti-corruption body that would be created in support of the administration’s drive against graft.
But the plan will have to be shelved since the former senator has accepted the “full-time” job of “rehabilitation czar.”
But it was learned that Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. who talked Lacson into accepting his appointment as reconstruction czar.
“So Aquino wanted someone who will not do it on an ad hoc basis, for instance, like a Cabinet secretary who will be weaned away from his primary responsibility as a Cabinet secretary. Hence, we needed someone who is a full-time individual to handle the reconstruction efforts,” Lacierda said.
“It [curbing corruption]continues to be a priority but different Cabinet secretaries are already doing that. We started out, based on the instructions of the President, to clear the landmines as early as 2010. So the clearing [of]the landmines continue,” Lacierda said.
“Each department secretary is in charge of curbing corruption in her or his own Cabinet departments,” he stressed.
The Palace official explained that the decision to make use of Lacson as implementor of the Yolanda rehabilitation masterplan was due to the “immediacy of this concern.”
“The President felt it is important to have some full-time individual to handle the reconstruction efforts. This will take a period of time to do the reconstruction efforts,” Lacierda said.
Since the reconstruction of typhoon-hit areas may take three years, there would be no more time to create the planned anti-corruption agency because the term of President Benigno Aquino 3rd ends in 2016.
Joel M. Sy Egco