MANILA (Mabuhay) – Following allegations of politicking against administration officials, rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson on Thursday defended the move of Interior Sec. Mar Roxas to distribute funds to typhoon-hit areas.
In a statement, Lacson said “some people” questioned why it was Roxas and not the rehabilitation czar who distributed the checks for the reconstruction of public buildings in areas affected by super Typhoon Yolanda.
Lacson said that while the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) has the power to recommend rehabilitation measures to the President, the power to implement plans and programs still remains with the appropriate government agencies.
“When it comes to the distribution of funds for the reconstruction of structures like municipal buildings, public markets and civic centers, the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) is the agency that has the power to implement the distribution of such funds,” he said.
“[So] it was natural and appropriate for DILG Secretary Roxas to be the person distributing such funds since DILG is the government agency with the power to implement the distribution,” he added.
He also clarified it was he, after consultation with the League of Municipalities, who recommended to the President that funds for the reconstruction of municipal buildings, public markets and civic centers’ be “downloaded” directly to the mayors.
“We were grateful that the President, Budget Secretary Abad and DILG Secretary Roxas acted favorably and implemented our recommendation to fast-track the distribution of funds to the mayors,” he said.
Lacson also reiterated that PARR does not manage or hold any government or private donor funds.
“This only shows that everyone has a part to play in the rehabilitation of Yolanda affected areas. We all need to work together. PARR is committed to support the national government, the government agencies and the private sector to ensure that each stakeholder can do its role in helping the rehabilitation of the Yolanda affected communities,” he said.
Lacson’s clarification came after Roxas and Transportation Sec. Jun Abaya, who were together for the distribution of funds, were accused of taking advantage of reconstruction efforts for their selfish political ends.
During one of the turnover ceremonies, Abaya even referred to Roxas as “President Mar Roxas.” The Palace, however, denied there was any politics behind the visits of the two to typhoon-hit areas.
Abaya, Liberal Party’s acting president, had said LP’s only choice for standard-bearer for the 2016 national elections is Roxas.
But President Benigno Aquino III, who is the party’s chairman, has repeatedly refused to name his bet. (MNS)