Newly appointed rehabilitation czar Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said his new job is difficult but he vowed to rebuild areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda and turn them into progressive communities.
Lacson said he will use all the government’s forces and the powers given him to help every affected family regain what they have lost.
He vowed to distribute properly all donations and to be transparent in spending the P40.9-billion reconstruction fund.
“Our target is a zero waste fund,” Lacson said during a forum at the Diamond Hotel.
He added that he prefers to partner with the private sector to avoid red tape.
“They are not bound by the Government Procurement Act and so on and so forth,” he said.
“What needs to be discussed is the mechanism. What concessions do we give to stakeholders, to the private sector, the big players who want to invest?” he said.
He said government can offer tax breaks to entice private firms to join in the reconstruction.
He vowed to consult all sectors, but warned that he will fight anyone who will try to slow him down.
“I will fight anybody. Hard-headed people will be dealt with iron hands. Everybody is expected to be accountable,” Lacson said in Filipino.
He said he accepted the “difficut but doable job” on Sunday after having been briefed on his task and what various government agencies are capable of contributing to bring life anew to the typhoon devastated areas, including Tacloban City where hundreds died. He said President Benigno Aquino 3rd offered him the position on Friday.
“The only thing I asked the President is if it is possible to define the extent of my mandate and authority. It is very important. I learned in the military that authority must be commensurate to the responsibility,” he said.
Lacson vowed to give birth to a new Tacloban, and that he expects a smooth relationship with local officials from congressmen, governors, mayors and councilmen.
He said he is also consulting urban planners, particularly visionary architects, to make sure all the decisions are geared toward progress and safety to make sure that a typhoon as powerful as Yolanda will not be as deadly.
Lacson said a new zoning is necessary to ensure that residential homes, business and government offices are situated in safe locations.
To this end, the planning and construction of infrastructures such as houses, government buildings, roads, airports and seaports will immediately commence.
Around 80,000 families, most of them live along the coast and hilly areas, are waiting to be resettled to safer ground.
Lacson said he will treat Tacloban as a model in reconstruction.
“They should change building codes there because this won’t be the last storm to hit those areas. If we are able to do the rehab, that will be our model. Tacloban, for example, can be the model for urban development. We should learn our lesson from Yolanda,” he said.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Lacson has the full support of the Cabinet.
“President Aquino decided to tap Senator Lacson for the position. He sounded off the members of the Cabinet during the Nov. 29 meeting and they manifested their full support,” he said.
Lacierda added that Lacson’s experience and management style would make him effective in his new position.
“I think the whole drive towards reconstruction is to bring the affected areas back on its feet. There is no issue. There is no politics here. Gagawin po lahat para maiangat ulit ang kabuhayan, ang katayuan ng mga naapektuhang lugar. So I think this is something that we look forward to in helping the affected citizens on those affected areas,” he said.
Lacierda said Lacson will report “directly to the President.”
“You also saw the enthusiasm of Senator Ping Lacson in consulting various experts on the matter. What we need really is somebody full-time to handle the reconstruction effort.
Given his national stature, given that he’s also a senator, he realizes and knows how to deal with all the different building blocks for these reconstruction efforts,” he said.