Lacson: We will check how Tacloban spent rehab money
MANILA - Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson denied Tacloban has not received a single centavo for the rehabilitation of the city after the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda.
During a multi-stakeholder conference Monday morning, Lacson said Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez has been telling lies about not receiving money from the national government for the rehabilitation effort.
He added the mayor also keeps on changing policies that affected the rehabilitation process.
"We keep on hearing [Romualdez] tell the media that Tacloban City has not received a single centavo… That's a lie. We know that Tacloban City has received [among others] projects worth P6 billion," he said.
He said the local government has submitted a program of work for the building of new structures or replacement for the damaged city hall, astrodome, public market, etc. The program of work stated that it will be the Department of Public Works and Highways that will finish the projects.
Romualdez, however, decided that he only wanted repairs, Lacson said.
"The agreement between the [Department of Interior and Local Government] and the DPWH is that for repairs, DILG will take care of it and DILG agreed to just download the funds to the LGUs to fast track the repair of the government centers," he said.
Lacson said Romualdez later requested that the money received from the DILG be realigned and "he wanted to transfer the city hall and the public market I think to another site."
He said Romualdez basically changed plans "overnight."
He said the DILG has allotted a total project cost of P230.7 million for Tacloban, 80% of which was released in one tranche.
Asked what happened to the funds already deposited in the name of the city, Lacson vowed the national government will look into it.
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The rehab czar also slammed Romualdez for transporting protesters from other regions to Tacloban to decry the supposed inaction from the national government.
Lacson said he sent Romualdez a text message saying that he saw a truck that carried the protesters parked at the local government’s compound.
He said he got a reply that stated: "Next time, we will be more circumspect."
The official said he tried to be patient with Romualdez.
"It is only now that we reached our threshold. We've been holding on to our punches all this time. Somehow, you will reach your elastic limit."
He said the national government has always practiced a policy of inclusion.
Tacloban will not be set aside, he added.
"We will continue to reach out. We are dealing with a calamity here. The people are suffering. We have a policy of inclusion, but I also have a message that I have stated before: You are either in or in the way," he said.