Attempts to exploit rehab funds revealed

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THERE are attempts on the part of some local officials in calamity-stricken areas to exploit the funds intended for rehabilitation even before the reconstruction efforts of the government starts, newly appointed rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson disclosed on Sunday.

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Lacson, who was recently appointed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd as the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery, said that he received the information last Friday while he was visiting the areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

The former senator, however, did not disclose the names of those involved and the nature of attempt but hinted that it involves officials on the local level.

He said that apart from monitoring the rehabilitation projects and coordination with government agencies in charge of the government rebuilding operations, he is also allowed to coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to help him in cases involving fund misuse and kickbacks.

“They [PNP and NBI] can help me conduct investigation against unscrupulous government agency officials and individuals that would try exploit the rehabilitation funds,” Lacson said in a radio interview.

Lacson said that he already consulted the NBI on the matter for them to take action before the full implementation of rehabilitation process takes place next year.

Lacson was appointed last week as rehabilitation secretary through a memorandum circular signed by the president.

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