Yolanda rehab: Lacson vows to crack whip on corrupt officials

by Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jan 07 2014 11:17 PM | Updated as of Jan 08 2014 07:26 AM

MANILA -- Post-Yolanda rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday warned local officials that there will be consequences should they get caught misusing or pocketing funds intended for the reconstruction work in areas devastated by super typhoon "Yolanda."

Speaking to radio dzMM, Lacson said that while his powers as rehabilitation chief may only be limited to administrative functions and do not include control of funds, he knows how to wield influence.

He also said that despite the absence of a legislation creating his office, which means he does not have a direct hand on rehabilitation funds, he will still personally make sure that not a single centavo of the money will go to the hands of corrupt officials.

"Kung merong kalokohan, maski wala akong kapangyarihan over funds... Para maging successful, maayos, transparent, maging accountable yung mga nag-iimplement eh kailangang bantayan ko mabuti yung isinasagawang implementasyon," he said.

"We're setting the tone na hindi pwede yung kalokohan
kasi pag nakalampas dito sa mga temporary shelter na pinabayaan nating may kalokohan, mantakin niyo na lang yung hundreds of billions of pesos na gagastuhin sa full rehabilitation implementation. Lalong malaking disgrasya aabutin natin," he added.

Lacson has asked the Philippine National Police - Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) to probe the alleged collusion between contractors and a politician, whom he declined to identify, so they can pocket a 35-percent kickback on the construction of temporary shelters for typhoon survivors.

He said he has also tapped the assistance of civil engineers and architects to confirm if some bunkhouses being constructed are substandard or under the specifications set by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The bunkhouses should be able to withstand typhoons as strong as Yolanda, he said, adding that the government's goal is to build better and safer shelters for the affected residents.

"Kasi kawawa naman yung mga taong titira," he said.

Lacson, meanwhile, clarified that the real issue with the temporary shelter units is not the allegations of overpricing but the use of substandard materials.

"Wala akong sinasabing may overpricing dahil ang tinitingnan namin dito yung posibleng under specs o substandard o pinalitan yung mga materials."

He said, once they have gathered enough evidence, they will file a case against the politician before the Ombudsman.

Meanwhile, Lacson said several businessmen in the country have "adopted" Yolanda-ravaged cities and municipalities to fund reconstruction efforts there.

"Malaking kabawasan ito sa gastos ng gobyerno," he said.

When asked of his work timetable, Lacson just said he targets to finish a "substantial" amount of the rehabilitation efforts by June 30, 2016.