Ping uses private jet in trips to Tacloban: mayor

By Perseus Echeminada, The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 18 2014 08:11 AM | Updated as of Nov 19 2014 01:24 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez claimed yesterday that his staunch critic, rehabilitation secretary Panfilo Lacson, has been traveling in style and uses a private Lear jet and helicopter in his trips to Tacloban City.

This made Lacson inaccessible to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, the mayor said.

Romualdez said the use of a Lear jet and helicopter has practically isolated Lacson from the private sector and foreign aid agencies who travel to the city by land or sea in delivering much needed help to residents.

“While the private sector, foreign aid agencies travel by taxi, Secretary Lacson travels by Lear jet and helicopter, and he wants all coordination done at his office,” Romualdez told reporters during the weekly Kapihan sa Diamond hotel media forum in Manila.

Romualdez said traveling on a private jet and helicopter leaves a bad taste to the private sector and the people of Tacloban.

The mayor said aside from the high profile travel of Lacson, the rehabilitation czar is also behind the plan to transfer the Tacloban City airport to Palo, Leyte due to a foreign funded study on the geographical location of the airport that is reportedly below sea level.

“When he (Lacson) assumed his post he announced the plan to transfer the airport and even the provincial capital,“ Romualdez said.

However, the plan to transfer the capital and the airport has been strongly opposed by residents and businessmen in the city.

Romualdez said he personally checked with the supposed study made by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and found out that it was only a geographical assessment that the airport is below sea level.

He said instead of pushing for the transfer of the airport, Lacson should have proposed a study to make the airport resilient from storm surges, like the Central Bank building that is near the airport but withstood the storm surge that hit Tacloban.

Romualdez also questioned why Lacson did not advise President Aquino to visit Tacloban City during the commemoration of the first anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda early this month.

The Tacloban mayor also accused Lacson of making up scenarios or problems for which he would later come out with a solution. He did not elaborate but urged President Aquino to review the performance of Lacson in the rehabilitation effort of Tacloban.

He said up to this time he has not been consulted by Lacson on the rehabilitation plan for Tacloban City despite the announcement that Aquino has already signed the supposed recovery plan for the city.

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