SECRETARY Panfilo Lacson will step down as rehabilitation czar in February next year.
The former senator on Sunday said he has submitted his irrevocable resignation to President Benigno Aquino 3rd as the Presidential Adviser on Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (PARR) since he had already accomplished his job as overseer of reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in areas hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Lacson, who assumed his post on December 10, 2013, said he will leave in February to ensure a smooth transfer of responsibilities of his office to a permanent body—the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC)
The President created the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (OPARR) through Memorandum Order 62 signed on December 6, 2013 appointing Lacson as the overall manager and coordinator of rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction efforts of government departments, agencies and instrumentalities in the affected areas.
Lacson said since OPARR already completed its tasks, including submission of a complete rehabilitation plan on Yolanda-stricken areas, it is only proper for him to resign and allow the NDRRMC to handle the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts as provided by law.
“We have completed our task. We have submitted the rehabilitation plan, about 18,000 plans, programs and projects which were uploaded on the website Empathy,” Lacson said in a radio interview aired over dzBB.
On the other hand, he raised the need for the government to establish a permanent body that would handle the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts during calamities. Lacson said an ad-hoc body is not enough to effectively address post-disaster needs and concerns.
“I’m not only referring to typhoons but also other calamities like volcanic eruptions, landslides and even earthquakes, so it’s about time for the government to have a permanent body to handle these concerns,” he added.
Lacson explained that although reconstruction and rehabilitation are already covered by the NDRRMC, a permanent body is still needed to handle the task since the agency in charge also has other concerns to handle.
The NDRRMC has several vice chairmen designated to handle specific disaster-related concerns including the Secretary of Interior and Local Government, vice chairman for disaster preparedness; Secretary of Science and Technology, vice chairman for disaster mitigation and prevention; Secretary of Social Welfare and Development, vice chaiman for relief and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), vice chairman for rehabilitation and recovery.
According to Lacson, NEDA focuses more on policy-making, thus the need for a permanent body for rehabilitation concerns.
“It is this reason why the President decided to create an OPARR because NEDA needs help in the rehabilitation efforts,” he said.
Lacson called on Congress to start studying Republic Act (RA) 10121, the law that created the NDRRMC, in order to prepare for the scheduled review of the law.
Section 27 of RA 10121 requires a systematic review of the NDRRMC law five years after it was enacted or as the need arises. The law took effect in May 2010.
Lacson said by May 2015, the joint congressional oversight committee will start the review of the law to determine if there is a need to introduce amendments to further strengthen it.
The former lawmaker believes that the NDRRMC review is very timely because it would also pave the way for proposed measures calling for the establishment of a separate body that would handle post-disaster rehabilitation.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano recently filed Senate Bill 1940 that seeks to establish an Emergency Response Department that will oversee humanitarian emergency assistance in times of disaster on a full-time capacity.
A separate measure was filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th seeking the creation of an emergency management agency that will be in charge of formulating policies aimed at reducing the risk of disasters, mitigating possible damage to life and property, initiating rapid and effective response to disasters and effectively managing post-disaster recovery.