Lacson seeks powers to probe Yolanda rehab corruption
MANILA, Philippines – Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson on Friday, August 8, said he wants to be given the powers “to investigate and file charges” not only against those misusing funds intended for the rehabilitation of communities devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), but also against implementing agencies that stall rehabilitation efforts.
In an interview on ANC's Headstart, Lacson said he will present a draft order to the President to “define and clarify” his role in overseeing rehabilitation efforts.
He has requested his legal team “to craft either an administrative order or an executive order to clearly define and clarify what oversight means” in the memorandum order that created his post.
Lacson disclosed this after he said on Sunday, August 3, that he is considering quitting his post. He explained that President Benigno Aquino III, for one, gave him no power to implement the P170.7-billion ($3.93-billion)* Yolanda rehabilitation plan that his office prepared.
Under Memorandum Order No. 62, which named him the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery, Lacson is limited to oversight after having accomplished his “main” objective of creating a rehabilitation plan. (READ: Lacson as rehab czar: Does he need more powers?)
Role 'just to observe, monitor'
When asked if he wants a role in the implementation, Lacson said on ANC, “Not necessarily a role, but I want to be relevant in the oversight, in overseeing the implementation of these projects.”
He added: “As it is now, my role as an overseer is only as good as your role in the media, as good as the role of NGOs, and any private individual, because my role is just to observe, monitor, and report. Now I want to have that defined and clarified.”
Clearer powers, he said, will help him act on problems, such as the seizure of P40 million ($920,000) in “substandard” and “deformed” steel products reportedly bound for areas ravaged by Yolanda.
Described as a “CEO without a budget,” Lacson is often compared to Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, his Indonesian counterpart, who wielded “near-absolute” powers when he successfully rebuilt Aceh and Nias after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. (READ: Indonesian rehab czar: Give Lacson more powers)
Lacson earlier told Rappler he is sometimes tempted to quit because his responsibilities far outweigh the mandate the President gave him. He said he “couldn't quit from this,” however, because “my conscience will bother me.” – Rappler.com
*$1 = P43.46