• Palace to hold accountable those who ‘misused’ Yolanda funds

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    Malacañang on Tuesday vowed to hold responsible those who allegedly misused the funds supposedly for  the rehabilitation of areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda.

    Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a press conference, issued the statement after rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson disclosed that he has received reports about irregularities in the disbursement of rehabilitation funds in Leyte and Samar.

    Lacson, however, made clear the anomalies did not involve relief, which is under the jurisdiction of the Social Welfare and Development Department.

    Speaking to reporters, Coloma said that Lacson has already coordinated with the appropriate law enforcement agencies, including the Philippine National Police to look into such activities.

    “Si Secretary Lacson ay kumilos na sa kanyang obserbasyon at sinabi niya sa kanytang pahayag na siya ay nakipagugnayan sa law enforcement agencies. Dahil sa lugar na pinuntahan niya may PNP kung saan siya dating hepe, siya mismo ang nakipagugnayan sa law enforcement agency [Sec. Lacson is acting on his observations and is working with law enforcement agencies, including the PNP that he once headed],” he said.

    “Malinaw naman po na sa lahat ng kilos ng pamahalaan hinggil sa rehabilitasyon at rekonstruksyon ng mga nasalantang lugar, wala naman pong konsiderasyon diyan ng pulitika [It is clear that all the government’s actions on rehabilitation and reconstruction do not take politics into consideration],” he added

    On Monday, Lacson said that he is still gathering evidence of the reported kickbacks, and had consulted with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police on possible charges.

    “The rehabilitation is not yet going full blast, yet some people are already looking for loopholes,” he noted.

    In an earlier interview, Lacson said that his mandate is to ensure that funds are funneled to the right projects in areas affected by Yolanda like Leyte, Samar, Iloilo and Northern Cebu.

    While he would not handle funds, the secretary guaranteed he would not allow anyone to take advantage of them through kickbacks and commissions. CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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