DEFENDING his appointment of former Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson as the country’s rehabilitation czar, President Benigno Aquino 3rd said this will speed up the rehabilitation of areas badly hit by super typhoon ‘Yolanda.’
Speaking before the Pulong Bulungan media forum, Mr. Aquino said he picked Lacson for the post because he is a “no nonsense person who brings results.”
“Why Ping Lacson? Siguro [Perhaps] Ping Lacson strikes me as a no nonsense person. . . Having Ping Lacson at the center where he is a no nonsense guy focused solely on Yolanda’s rehabilitation will undoubtedly achieve the targets sooner and that is again the primary reason why we looked at the unique capabilities of Senator Lacson to be able to deliver,” he said.
As the country’s rehabilitation czar, Lacson is in charge of the post-Yolanda rehabilitation efforts of the government with P 41 billion funding.
He added, appointing Lacson would help Cabinet members who are helping in the Yolanda rehabilitation effort while also doing their normal functions.
“Now, having Ping Lacson at the center wherein he’s a no-nonsense guy, focused solely on Yolanda’s rehabilitation will undoubtedly achieve the targets sooner,” he said.
The President also reiterated the government’s efforts toward ensuring transparency in harnessing international aid to help those affected by Yolanda recover.
He said all foreign donations coursed through the Philippine government can be checked in the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub [FAiTH] website.
Yolanda had blown through the Visayas and Southern Luzon last November, leaving behind at least 5,500 dead.
Meanwhile, the President maintained he does not let himself get affected by survey approval ratings, saying he thinks more of what is right for the people.
“At the end of the day, the only criteria I have is: Did I do right? And sometimes the right decision may be unpopular. Sometimes … conversely the wrong decision is immensely popular,” he said.
“But I really have to stick with doing what I believe is right. Our people, I believe, are fair judges,” he said.
PNoy defends cabinet members
Meanwhile, Mr. Aquino defended his Cabinet from criticisms blaming the
media’s “negativitism” as reason why exemplary performances of his official family very seldom reach the public.
He specifically cited Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior Secretary Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas 2nd and Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman for being in the “front lines” during the recent calamities that hit the country.
“Pag hindi tayo naghanap ng o hindi tayo gumawa ng kontrobersya o isyu ay parang boring ‘yung ating [If we don’t have any controversies or issues our] media [seem to be boring]. I think negativism really sells,” he added.
The Aquino administration has been criticized over his administration’s handling of post-Yolanda efforts.
Aquino also praised state weather forecasting bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) and Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo for their accurate typhoon warnings.
He likewise thanked his women appointees—among them Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Internal Revenue commissioner Kim Henares, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, and Commission on Audit chief Grace Pulido Tan—for safeguarding his administration against corruption.
“Sabi ko baka pagdating ng 10 taon mula ngayon ay hindi na ho women empowerment ang paksa natin, baka ang paksa na raw po natin ay men’s emancipation,” he said.
The four lady Cabinet members were given Exemplar award for courage and integrity during the forum for their exemplary works in fighting corruption.
Besides his Cabinet, the President also thanked the soldiers and policemen who served during the Zamboanga crisis and the Typhoon Yolanda onslaught.
He also thanked the members of the international community who extended their help to the Philippines.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO