Lacson warns obstructionists

24 January 2014

Manila, Philippines - Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Secretary Panfilo Lacson yesterday warned politicians obstructing the government’s rehabilitation efforts in the typhoon-stricken Eastern Visayas.

“Maybe they thought that we are not aware of their efforts to obstruct the implementation of the government’s reconstruction and rehabilitation project,” Lacson said at the sidelines of the Experts Forum on Rebuilding Communities and Ecosystems after “Yolanda” held at the AIM Conference Center in Makati City. He, however, was silent on what sanctions will be imposed on politicians who will be proven to have obstructed the rehabilitation efforts.

[caption id="attachment_83485" align="alignleft" width="213"] ‘COLOR BLIND’ — Presidential Adviser on Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Panfilo M. Lacson, appearing at yesterday’s forum in Makati City, says he sees ‘no political color’ in working with or working against politicians who may ‘be with him’ or ‘be in his way’ in delivering the programs to revive the old vigor of ‘Yolanda’-battered Tacloban City. (Malacañang Photo Bureau)[/caption]

But Lacson revealed that he has a shortlist of politicians “getting in the way” of their rehabilitation work. “Mostly politicians, possibly administration allies but some of them are also opposition,” he said, noting that less than 10 persons are in his shortlist of “obstructers” not only in the investigation on the alleged overpriced and substandard bunkhouses in the Visayas but on other aspects of the rehabilitation work.

“As if they don’t want to work with us. They are trying to obstruct. For example, we needed something from them but it would take some time before they could give or lend it to us. We know it is readily available and they are not even busy, why won’t they allow us to use it?” Lacson asked, citing this as one example.

“They should just think of the welfare of the victims because the people are the ones suffering and not their enemies,” he added.

The rehab czar pointed out that the rehabilitation and recovery efforts should not be politically-tainted.

“Though I refuse to know from which side of the political fence they (obstructionists) belong to, we are still able to learn about it in the course of our inquiries… why some areas are still not given substantial help,” he said.

Lacson said the government is already close to implementing the actual reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas severely affected by the super typhoon.

“We are in our third month (after the typhoon) and in a few weeks, the implementation of reconstruction will commence. The rehabilitation and reconstruction is not slow-paced. Within six months to one year, there will already be vertical improvement in the affected areas,” he added.

Lacson said the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) has alredy gathered enough information on the alleged substandard and overpriced construction of bunkhouses for typhoon victims.

“We are in constant touch with the CIDG. They said they have enough information but how to translate these (pieces of) information into solid evidence is another matter. Criminal charges will be filed against those responsible no matter how close they are to the administration, no matter what affiliations they have, political or otherwise,” he said.