• Lacson officially joins Aquino Cabinet as ‘rehab czar’

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    FORMER Senator Panfilo Lacson is now officially a member of President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s Cabinet.

    Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Tuesday said Lacson’s appointment has been signed by the president, including a memorandum that delineates his functions as “Rehabilitation czar.”

    “The Office of the Executive Secretary has released the appointment papers of former Senator Panfilo Lacson as Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, with Cabinet rank, as well as Memorandum Order No. 62, ‘Providing for the Functions of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery.’

    To assist Secretary Lacson, the President also appointed Mr. Danilo Antonio as Undersecretary in the Office of the President,” Coloma said in a press briefing.

    As his first official act, the Palace official said Lacson would attend the Cabinet meeting scheduled Tuesday afternoon, where details of the rehabilitation plan for Yolanda affected areas would be discussed.

    Coloma said both the appointment paper and the Memorandum Order were signed by Aquino last December 6 but the appointment was transmitted only on Monday.

    He said that as presidential assistant, Lacson shall act “act as the over-all manager and coordinator of rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction efforts of government departments, agencies and instrumentalities in the affected areas,” including Samar, Leyte, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Capiz, Aklan, Antique, Iloilo and Palawan where Typhoon Yolanda wrought “widespread destruction, substantial damage, and death.”

    The former lawmaker is also tasked to coordinate with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and “consult” with concerned local government units in the formulation of plans and programs for the rehabilitation, recovery and development of the affected areas.

    “The plans and programs include an overall strategic vision and integrated short-term, medium-term and long-term programs, which shall be submitted to the President for approval,” Coloma stressed.

    Lacson shall also exercise oversight over agencies that are directly involved in the rehabilitation program and he may propose funding support for its implementation.

    His vast powers include the authority to call upon any department, bureau, office, agency, or instrumentality of the government, including Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), Government Financial Institutions (GFIS), LGUs, and request non-government organizations (NGOs), the private sector, and other entities for assistance and as needed.

    “All departments, bureaus, offices, agencies, or instrumentalities of the government, including GOCCs and GFIs, are hereby directed to render full assistance and cooperation to the Presidential Assistant as may be required to carry out his functions pursuant to this Order. LGUs, NGOs, the private sector, and other entities for assistance as the exigencies may require,” Coloma said, citing Section 2 of the Memo.

    During the briefing, he said that the president and Lacson have already discussed about how the rehabilitation efforts would be fasttracked.

    “I believe they had their conversation when the matter was first broached to him, and from then on, Secretary Lacson has taken on the initiative to initiate consultations with knowledgeable resource persons,” Coloma said.

    “He [Lacson] has actively sought the inputs of stakeholder groups, and has even stated that he is pleased with the expressions of support and encouragements, especially from the private sector. And he believes that such support will be very helpful in accelerating the pace of the rehabilitation efforts,” the official added.

    As presidential assistant, Lacson has control over all government structures in the areas within his jurisdiction. He will have a free hand in tapping any individual or agency that will help expedite recovery.

     

     

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