Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said he will not resign from his post but will ask President Benigno Aquino 3rd to give him more powers to oversee implementation of the country’ biggest rehabilitation effort.
Speaking at the Bulong Pulungan media forum, Lacson noted that his authority limits his role in the implementation of programs and projects in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
The former senator has been serving as “overall manager and coordinator,” being the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery, a post Aquino created in the aftermath of the typhoon.
Lacson said he will meet with the President to discuss the “way forward” for his office. He submitted the P170.9-billion Yolanda rehabilitation plan to Aquino on Friday.
“Kasi tapos na ‘yung plano, what’s next? ‘Yun ang sunod na itatanong. Wala tayong implementasyon, pero meron doon sa mandate namin na meron kaming oversight function [Because the plan is finished, what’s next? That’s the next question. We don’t have implementation powers, but our mandate includes an oversight function],” Lacson said.
He added that national and local government agencies—which need to handle disasters other than Yolanda—can now implement the plan that his office prepared.
“It is now in the hands of the implementing agencies. I’ve finished my main task, which is to come up with a master rehabilitation plan. I have nothing more to do,” Lacson said.
When asked if he will request a broader range of powers, he replied that he just wants to have an authority “to investigate” while the line agencies are implementing the rehabilitation plan.
He also wants to have power “to look into the delays in the implementation” and an “authority to call upon law enforcement agencies.”
“Siguro kung may mga ganyan mas magiging efficient. Kasi sa experience ko sa military, ang turo sa amin pag bibigyan ka ng responsibility, dapat mayroon commensurate authority for you to become effective and efficient,” Lacson said.
He added that his 8,000-page master plan consists eight volumes covering 171 cities and municipalities, 14 provinces and six regions in the country.
The master plan was realized through the help of local government units, administration officials and local executives and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Lacson said $10 million from USAID was used for the technical support needed to put together the master plan. The grant allowed technical consultants to go to affected municipalities where they helped the mayors put together a local rehabilitation plan.
Meanwhile, Lacson said the Department of Budget and Management has P137 billion in funds available that can be “frontloaded” in 2014 and 2015.
He added that he is expecting 80 to 85 percent of the projects would be completed by the time Aquino steps down in 2016.