Lacson: No overpricing of bunkhouses but...

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 27 2014 03:25 PM | Updated as of Jan 28 2014 03:39 AM

MANILA - Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) Panfilo “Ping” Lacson would not name the local politicians who he said were getting in the way of reconstruction efforts in communities affected by typhoon “Yolanda.”

“On a positive note, yesterday, we found out na medyo nag-lie low na ‘yung mga nakikialam doon sa bunkhouses,” Lacson told reporters.

“Hindi naman masyadong importante iyong mga pangalan dito, ang importante iyong mensahe na hindi kayo lulusot kasi maraming nagbabantay.”

Lacson agreed that there is no overpricing of the bunkhouses being built as temporary shelters for typhoon victims but said substandard materials were used for the bunkhouses. He cited an instance in Eastern Samar where the roof of a bunkhouse was blown away by a relatively weaker typhoon “Agaton.”

Previously, a probe was launched to look into reports that politicians wanted to extract kickbacks from the project.

“Well, there’s no question, walang overpricing. Kasi pinatingnan ko rin ito, meron kaming pool of civil engineers who went to the area, and took a look at the standard specifications prepared by DPWH. Walang overpricing, ito rin ‘yung sinasabi ni Secretary (Rogelio) Singson, and we agree. But ‘yung substandard materials, ‘yung under specifications, even substituting of materials—hindi sumunod talaga doon sa specs ng DPWH. There’s no question about it,” Lacson said.

Lacson is proposing to Congress that the procurement law be amended, citing a provision that is being used as a “scapegoat” by contractors to use substandard materials.

Contractors are given under the law 90 days to repair, at their own expense, “any defect or damage to the infrastructure projects on account of the use of materials of inferior quality.”

Government is considering giving typhoon survivors construction materials instead to fix their homes but Lacson reiterated that they would eventually be relocated to permanent settlement sits.

“Kung humihingi sila ng 40,000 pesos, halimbawa, para mag-construct… Actually, doon na ‘yung direction ng DPWH ngayon. Nag-confer kami ni Secretary Babes na parang we’ll do away with the bunkhouses na. Bibigyan na lang talaga ng construction materials ‘yung mga tao na gustong magkumpuni ng transition shelters. Kasi ‘pag kinumpuni nila ‘yung mga dating bahay nila, in effect those are temporary shelters, kasi ire-relocate din naman sila eventually ‘pag nakakita na ng relocation sites at nagawa na ‘yung mga housing units,” he said.

Lacson meantime continues to appeal to local politicians to set aside politics, saying it is the people who suffer.

“Ang mga challenges mostly sa local, ‘yung mga local politics. Alam naman natin doon, medyo mababaw ‘yung politika doon, ‘pag kalaban ang mayor ay hindi pinapansin ‘yung bayan. So the other day I told them, during a meeting with the LGUs, kung gusto niyong parusahan ‘yung kalaban ninyong mayor ang madadamay kasi ‘yung mga constituents na hindi naman nila kalaban,” he said.

A number of private companies have volunteered to develop towns.

“Kaya nga in-engage namin ‘yung private sector because they will outlive this administration and even the next administration. Maski tapos na ‘yung administration nandyan pa rin ‘yung private sector becase andyan naman talaga sila e. And once they had been set in motion, hindi na sila kakalas doon because it is their social responsibility to the people. After all, meron silang corporate social responsibility na talagang, more or less, permanent.”

Lacson is also proposing the creation of a department that would be headed by a secretary who would oversee relief and rehabilitation of areas that would be affected by future calamities.

“From a practical standpoint, kailangan natin ‘yon dahil suki naman talaga natin ‘yung mga bagyo,” he said.