SC denies plea to suspend Lacson's authority as rehab czar

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 11 2014 02:54 PM | Updated as of Feb 12 2014 02:32 AM

MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday denied the plea of self-styled legal advocate Louis "Barok" Biraogo to suspend the authority of rehabilitation czar Secretary Panfilo Lacson, whose appointment Biraogo questioned before the high tribunal.

In their en banc session, the magistrates denied Biraogo's plea for temporary restraining order (TRO) against President Aquino's Memorandum Order (MO) No. 62, dated Dec. 6, which creates and defines Lacson's functions and authority as Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery.

"The court denied the application for a TRO but directed respondent (Lacson) to comment on the petition within ten days," SC Public Information Office chief Atty Theodore Te said in a news conference.

Biraogo, in his petition, argued that MO No. 62 violates Republic Act (RA) No 10121 which created the National Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) "for the purpose of carrying out post-disaster rehabilitation programs of the government," and designated the Secretary of Defense as head of the NDRRMC.

He stressed that a presidential memorandum order cannot confer upon the Presidential Assistant an authority and function conferred by law on the defense chief.

Biraogo pointed out that there was no need to create and fund a new office to take charge of government's disaster rehabilitation efforts.

Mr. Aquino appointed Lacson as the country's rehabilitation czar on the heels of the devastation caused by super typhoon 'Yolanda' in Leyte and nearby areas.

Biraogo is the same petitioner in the case agaist Mr. Aquino's Executive Order (EO) No. 1, creating the Philippine Truth Commission. The high court agreed with Biraogo's petition and thumbed down as unconstitutional Mr. Aquino's first official issuance.