Lacson: 2 Cabinet secretaries uncooperative in Yolanda rehab

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 07 2014 03:21 PM | Updated as of May 08 2014 06:56 AM

MANILA - Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson said two Cabinet members are causing him frustration in his work to rehabilitate areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda.

However, Lacson refused to divulge the names of the Cabinet members who have allegedly been uncooperative.

He even backed off when asked if one of the Cabinet members he is alluding to is connected to local governments.

Lacson made the revelation in a press conference in Malacanang along with Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman and Trade Undersecretary Zeny Maglaya. Both were seen nodding as Lacson vented his frustrations.

Lacson said part of the frustration is also the lack of an implementing power for his office. He said he is a mere coordinator of the work of other agencies.

He said he has not yet elevated the matter to President Aquino, but indicated he may do so soon.

Rehab continues

Nevertheless, he said rehabilitation work continues and remains on track despite the absence of a master plan for rehabilitation and recovery six months after Yolanda struck.

He said the post-disaster needs assessment, which will provide crucial data for the crafting of the rehab plan, is not yet final and is still being vetted.

"Ayon po sa batas (Republic Act) 10121 creating the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, one month after a disaster strikes, kailangang magsusumite iyong Office of Civil Defense ng post-disaster needs assessment. Tapos na po iyon. Kailangan lang i-presenta sa Cabinet members for vetting at sa Pangulo for his approval. Nai-presenta na raw ito kay Secretary Voltaire Gazmin at hinihintay na lang natin na i-presenta ito sa Gabinete at sa Pangulong Aquino,” he said.

He believes the rehab and recovery work remains on track. He said there is no famine, epidemic, and breakdown of law and order in the areas of devastations.

"Kung ibabase natin sa international experiences ng ibang countries: Katrina -- fully recovered after eight years; Banda Aceh -- fully recovered after eight years; Haiti -- four years after has yet to see their road to recovery. Tayo, six months after, marami na pong nangyari doon sa 'Yolanda' avenue, and considering the vastness of the area and the extent of devastation ay mukhang hindi naman talaga nahuhuli, at tayo ay sinisikap pa nating mas madaliin pa.”

He said the rehabilitation is being done on a cluster framework approach. “We formed five clusters each headed by a Cabinet secretary: infrastructure cluster headed by Secretary (Rogelio) Singson of DPWH, social services cluster headed by Secretary Soliman of DSWD, resettlement cluster headed by the Vice President, Vice President (Jejomar) Binay, in his capacity as HUDCC chairman, support services cluster co-chaired by Secretary Abad of DBM and Secretary Arsi Balisacan of NEDA, and then the livelihood cluster that is headed by Secretary Gregory Domingo."

Lacson said these clusters will then submit their plans to him. "That will form part of the master rehabilitation plan na isusumite kay Pangulong Aquino.”

The government has been hit by criticisms that the rehabilitation is too slow.

Master plan to be submitted in June

Lacson maintained that the master plan may still be submitted by June.

He said provincial governments are also doing their best.

“Marami nang development sa ground na in-initiate ng mga Cabinet secretary ng mga department, at bukod doon, we advised the provincial governors to submit their respective provincial rehabilitation plans.”

So far, the cost of rehabilitation is already over P104 billion.

He said he has also recommended to President Aquino the issuance of a presidential proclamation to declare certain public domain properties as resettlement sites to help address the need for more housing units.

One housing unit may cost as much as P220,000. The cost of building new classrooms runs between P650,000 to about P1.2 million.

"[Some] 216,966 housing units ang kailangang i-resettle na mga pamilya. Ang pinakamalaking challenge dito 'yung resettlement sites. Kulang ang lupa ng gobyerno.”