Just because he took on the job to head the reconstruction of areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda does not mean that he has sets his eyes on the presidency in 2016, former Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said on Wednesday.
Lacson made it clear he does not intend to run for president even if his new role can redefine his political career.
“Not thinking of it [presidency]. I just want to stay focused because once you think of other things the tendency is you cannot focus,” he told The Manila Times.
He said that thinking of the 2016 presidential derby would only hinder him from carrying on his task as “rehabilitation czar.”
“I don’t think I will accomplish my mission if I will consider what other people will think,” he said at an event of the Chinese Embassy on Tuesday night.
Lacson ran for president in 2004 but lost to former President Gloria Arroyo.
He said that while he was hesitant when the President offered him the job, he is now raring to start working.
“As I have said, even though there are criticisms, I won’t mind them and I would just stay focused,” Lacson said.
Lacson’s appointment as rehab czar came under attack from some critics who said that the former police chief is not prepared for the job.
“Nothing in Lacson’s record indicate his competence to handle the rehabilitation of communities affected by Typhoon Yolanda,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of human rights group Karapatan.
Lacson said that among his immediate concerns is to coordinate with the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to find a way to help people who lost their land titles in the disaster.
“Missing land titles is one of the concerns because how can you establish ownership and start restoration of houses without it?” he said.
Although he is on top of the government rehabilitation effort, he intends to closely coordinate with local and national government.
The former lawmaker also vowed not to waste money allotted for the reconstruction of ruined towns and cities. He noted that with the extra public vigilance on public funds, no one would dare attempt to misuse reconstruction funds.
“If they [grafters]meddle and mishandle funds, it will be easier to hit them now. The expose on PDAF misuse is a blessing in disguise. Now, if some people still can’t help but steal, they’re on notice: we have the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Do you think someone will still think of stealing funds meant for typhoon victims?” Lacson asked.