Rehab czar Lacson to count on private sector
If he had his way, rehabilitation czar Panfilo “Ping” Lacson would prefer having the private sector implement the massive rehabilitation work in “Yolanda”-stricken provinces, with the government being its “enabler.”
Lacson said this would ensure that rehab and reconstruction work would go faster, without being saddled by red tape that government bureaucracy is notorious for.
“We have to admit the private sector can do this faster and more efficiently,” Lacson said in a hotel forum. “I do not want to be bogged down (by bureaucratic red tape) in the middle of this endeavor.”
The former senator will report directly to President Aquino in his new capacity, Malacañang said on Monday.
“What we need really is somebody full-time to handle the reconstruction effort,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, adding that Lacson got the job because “given his national stature … he knows how to deal with all the different building blocks for these reconstruction efforts.”
The Palace denied that political consideration was a factor in its choice of Lacson, who has been identified with a Malacañang faction.
“There is no issue. There is no politics here,” Lacierda said.
Lacson said he intended to complete the rehabilitation and reconstruction of typhoon-devastated areas by the time President Aquino steps down on June 30, 2016, as he was informed by experts that this was “daunting but doable.”
Speaking at a breakfast forum at the Diamond Hotel in Manila, the former chief of the Philippine National Police turned senator admitted he had yet to propose to the President the idea of asking the private sector to lead the rehabilitation efforts in Central Visayas.
Lacson said he held briefings over the weekend with urban planners and other people with expertise in rehab and reconstruction efforts before he accepted the President’s offer.
Asked what might have prompted Aquino to offer him the job, Lacson said: “I can only surmise that it has to do with the transparency issue in implementing the projects.”
He said that to counter the “politics or intramurals” that may become obstacles in the massive rehabilitation effort, he would be reaching out to the town mayors and local executives in the devastated areas.
While his new job entails “managerial and administrative skills,” Lacson said his being a “basagulero” (troublemaker) might come in handy should he face instances when rehabilitation funds are being misused.
He said he intended to appoint an executive director and a team composed of a lawyer, a financial expert, a civil engineer and an architect to help him.
Lacson said he would also look into the rehabilitation efforts that were done in the aftermath of World War II, like the Marshall Plan, as well as those put in place after the 2006 tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia.
He said he found it “ideal” to have the “close to absolute” authority given to the late US Gen. Douglas MacArthur who led the post-World War II rehabilitation.
“If I would be given that … so much the better because I can get things done better,” he said, adding, however, that this would be difficult in “our setting,” which was why he would be doing “more consultation or coordination.”
Lacson conceded that his new job was lined with many challenges, among them, motivating investors to return to the typhoon-battered provinces.
The government should be prepared to give the private sector some perks like tax concessions to encourage it to come in as the main implementor of the rehabilitation efforts, he said.
“What could be lost in revenues can be compensated for in expenditures” Lacson said, referring to Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Internal Revenue Chief Kim Henares who might not approve of the tax concession idea.
The former senator also said that the exposé on the pork barrel scam had become a sort of “blessing” as it now served as a “deterrent” to national and local governments as they embarked on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Yolanda-devastated areas.
Lacson said he was just waiting for his appointment papers and the executive order defining the responsibilities of his new job, adding that their release would signal the “start of my miserable life.”
Originally posted: 8:03 pm | Monday, December 2nd, 2013
Lacson accepts job as ‘Yolanda’ rehab czar
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