ORDERED TO CLEAN UP DA, KIKO PANGILINAN GETS 4 BIG AGENCIES

Former Senator Francis Pangilinan on Tuesday took oath as the new Presidential assistant for food security and agricultural modernization. In a press briefing in Malacañang, Pangilinan said he was tasked to address the issues on food security, to fix the processes in rice importation and exportation and to advance the welfare of agricultural workers. "Food security can only be done when you secure your farmers and fisherfolk so the overall (solution) is to address that," Pangilinan said in the televised briefing. He said part of his job is to help address corruption and smuggling in the agriculture sector. "Ang sinabi ng ating Pangulo, I am here to help clean up these agencies, so ‘yon ang kanyang sinabi sa akin. So kasama ang pag-address dito sa mga usapin ng katiwalian at itong smuggling," Pangilinan said. "The marching orders are to clean it up so we will do what we can - as best we can - to help in that respect," he also said. With his new post, Pangilinan clarified that he will not be superior to Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. READ MORE...

ALSO: Mar on Ping’s complaint: Don’t look at me

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II (photo) clarified yesterday that he does not have any rift with rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson, who earlier claimed that two Cabinet officials have been hampering efforts to rehabilitate areas in the Visayas that were devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda last Nov. 8. Lacson, who heads the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Rehabilitation and Recovery, said that two officials whom he refused to identify have been ignoring his calls, text messages and even official correspondence. Roxas, whose office is also involved in the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit areas, said he does not feel alluded to. “(Former) Sen. Panfilo Lacson is the one who can say if we have any difficulties. As far as I know, we don’t have any pending (work) in his office, and (if) there’s any, he can call me,“ Roxas told reporters at the sidelines of the flood summit held at the House of Representatives. He described his relationship with Lacson as “very close,” going way back to their days in the Senate. “Ping is man enough, if he has an issue with me, he can text me and he can call me anytime. Let’s not make an issue out of this or blow this out of proportion,” Roxas said in Filipino. READ MORE...

Job ‘limitations,’ uncooperative Cabinet execs frustrate Lacson

Presidential Adviser on Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday expressed frustration over the “limitations” of his job, aggravated by uncooperative Cabinet secretaries and local government officials. “I am really frustrated. Because when I want to do something, I want it done right away. But sometimes you can’t do it because it’s beyond my authority. That’s not within my authority to get things done the way I want [them] done because there is protocol. We follow international protocol and the law. And I am bound by MO [Memorandum Order] 62 that says in so many words my limits,” Lacson said at a news briefing in Malacañang. The former senator added that he should be given the power to implement by revising the presidential order that created his office and defined his functions. “That is the ideal situation, I hope it’s changed and the executive order replaced. But I cannot demand. If that’s given to me, then I have to live with it and I’ll maximize my actions given the limitation. That is always my attitude,” Lacson said. He added that he finds fulfilment in being part of rebuilding areas devastated by the “strongest typhoon that ever hit the planet.” “I always say that failure is never an option. We must succeed not only for myself but for the victims, the survivors of Yolanda; and for the safety of those who would be hit by future disasters. We can learn so many lessons from this exercise,” Lacson pointed out.
He considers the model for rehabilitation efforts as the one carried out in Banda Aceh after its devastation by the 2004 tsunami.READ MORE...

(ALSO) Escudero to Lacson: ‘Name 2 secretaries derailing rehab’

REHABILITATION czar former Senator Panfilo Lacson should name the two Cabinet secretaries whom he accused of derailing recovery efforts in Yolanda-devastated areas, Senator Francis Escudero said Thursday. “At least, the list is shorter because there are only two, and not 16. But that is enough so that these secretaries can explain,” Escudero said, referring to Lacson’s earlier refusal to name 16 senators that he said were linked to the pork barrel scam.
Lacson was supposed to appear before the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday, but he sent the director of the Office of the President Assistant for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction or OPARR, Karen Jimeno, instead. Jimeno told the joint panel that only one cluster out of the five Cabinet clusters created by President Benigno Aquino III had submitted to their office their plans for areas ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda. She also said the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report, which will be the basis for the rehabilitation master plan, is also awaiting approval from President Benigno Aquino III. “We are in the process of vetting the infrastructure cluster submission. We are still waiting for other clusters’ plans. We do not have the police power to penalize agencies for not working with us,” Jimeno said. Escudero, who attended the hearing, recalled Jimeno telling the joint panel that it was only the Infrastructure cluster under Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson that was able to submit their plan for the affected areas. CONTINUE READING...


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Ordered to clean up DA, Kiko Pangilinan gets 4 big agencies


Oath-taking of Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan. Official Gazette Twitter account

MANILA, MAY 12, 2014 (PHILSTAR)  By Louis Bacani - Former Senator Francis Pangilinan on Tuesday took oath as the new Presidential assistant for food security and agricultural modernization.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Pangilinan said he was tasked to address the issues on food security, to fix the processes in rice importation and exportation and to advance the welfare of agricultural workers.

"Food security can only be done when you secure your farmers and fisherfolk so the overall (solution) is to address that," Pangilinan said in the televised briefing.

He said part of his job is to help address corruption and smuggling in the agriculture sector.

"Ang sinabi ng ating Pangulo, I am here to help clean up these agencies, so ‘yon ang kanyang sinabi sa akin. So kasama ang pag-address dito sa mga usapin ng katiwalian at itong smuggling," Pangilinan said.

"The marching orders are to clean it up so we will do what we can - as best we can - to help in that respect," he also said.

With his new post, Pangilinan clarified that he will not be superior to Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

Pangilinan said he will only be a support person to the agency and that he will oversee the National Food Authority, the National Irrigation Authority, the Philippine Coconut Authority and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority.

The former chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and a full-time vegetable farmer, Pangilinan said there are serious concerns and issues affecting the agriculture sector that would need his attention.

"Maliwanag marami pang mga problema na kinakailangang lutasin kung kaya't mahalaga na magtulungan upang yung mga programang hindi pa naipapatupad ay maaari nating bigyang diin," Pangilinan said.

The former senator also believes that President Aquino, who has only two years left in office, probably decided to tap his services since time is running out for him to address the problems in the agriculture sector.

"I think the President felt the need to fast-track (the government's programs) and to add support," Pangilinan said. "Malawak na sangay ang sektor ng agrikultura kaya't mabuti na may dagdag na tao."

Panglinan's appointment comes amid the allegations of corruption that have been raised against Alcala.

During his appointment, Pangilinan said President Aquino did not bring up Alcala's corruption issues and supposed shortcomings as agriculture chief.

Mar on Ping’s complaint: Don’t look at me By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 9, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II (photo) clarified yesterday that he does not have any rift with rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson, who earlier claimed that two Cabinet officials have been hampering efforts to rehabilitate areas in the Visayas that were devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda last Nov. 8.

Lacson, who heads the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Rehabilitation and Recovery, said that two officials whom he refused to identify have been ignoring his calls, text messages and even official correspondence.

Roxas, whose office is also involved in the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit areas, said he does not feel alluded to.

“(Former) Sen. Panfilo Lacson is the one who can say if we have any difficulties. As far as I know, we don’t have any pending (work) in his office, and (if) there’s any, he can call me,“ Roxas told reporters at the sidelines of the flood summit held at the House of Representatives.

He described his relationship with Lacson as “very close,” going way back to their days in the Senate.

“Ping is man enough, if he has an issue with me, he can text me and he can call me anytime. Let’s not make an issue out of this or blow this out of proportion,” Roxas said in Filipino.

He said the rehabilitation effort was a daunting task, even as he cited some bottlenecks that need the cooperation of everyone to overcome.

Some 6,300 persons died and more than four million were displaced when Yolanda hit the Visayas. The typhoon also damaged almost P90 billion worth of property and affected about six million workers.

Roxas said the first few months after Typhoon Yolanda were devoted to rescue and recovery owing to the wide swath of destruction, as national agencies started to make assessments on what needed to be done.

Roxas said from March to April, the funds for the rehabilitation of various local infrastructure were already available but the same could not be released if the concerned local governments would not submit work programs or plans.

Lacson, however, assured the people that the government is still on track in the rehabilitation efforts.

Larson, in a statement, admitted that the tasks at hand are huge and he needs all the help he can get from all sectors, in order for him to succeed and complete the task given to him by President Aquino.

He said that despite all his efforts, some individuals and groups are out to carry on with their personal hidden agenda, thus adversely affecting the recovery and rehabilitation work.

He particularly cited the case of two Cabinet members who he said are “causing frustration” in his work because of their lack of cooperation.

Lacson refused to identify the uncooperative Cabinet members, but indicated that he will name them soon even as he will talk to President Aquino and discuss the matter with him.

He also lamented the fact that his office also lacks the implementing power and he merely acts as a coordinator for other agencies.

Lacson also revealed that some members and leaders of left-leaning groups have been undermining the rehabilitation efforts of the government in typhoon-devastated areas.

“We know that some of these personalities from the left could be working with some officials within the government in order to sabotage our rehabilitation work and in the process put me in a bad light,” he said.

Lacson said rehabilitation work remains on track despite the absence of a master plan for rehabilitation and recovery six months after Yolanda struck.

He said the post-disaster needs assessment, which will provide crucial data for the crafting of the rehabilitation plan, is not yet final.

Lacson said that compared with other countries that were also hit by natural calamities, the Philippines is well ahead on its track to recovery.

He cited the case of Louisiana in the United States that was hit by Hurricane Katrina and fully recovered only after eight years.

He said that tsunami-hit areas in Banda Aceh in Indonesia also recovered after eight years, while the earthquake-damaged areas in Haiti recovered after four years.

Lacson said a master plan on the rehabilitation of the Yolanda affected areas may be submitted by June.

Name names, Lacson told

Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace, said that Lacson should identify the Cabinet members who are derailing rehabilitation efforts in Eastern Visayas.

“He should name names. He should not only be content with making accusations. If what he is saying is true then he should give the names (of these uncooperative government officials) so we could come up solutions,” said Gariguez.

He said the government should get its act together in order to be efficient in delivering services.

Palace reassures typhoon victims

Malacañang yesterday vowed closer coordination among agencies involved in the rehabilitation of communities ravaged by the typhoon, amid the complaints of Lacson about some uncooperative officials.

Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said the government’s resolve to fully implement the programs still prevails, and will do everything to help the victims of the world’s strongest storm.

“The government is determined to carry out the comprehensive rehabilitation based on the Post Disaster Needs Assessment in every province, city and municipality that have been affected by Yolanda,” he emphasized.

Coloma said the government would further improve the coordination among Cabinet members to implement the President’s programs, based on what the administration learned six months after the disaster.

Lacson said the Philippines took a “clustered framework approach” in the rehabilitation effort. Five clusters were formed, each headed by a Cabinet secretary, to expedite the formulation of plans and programs for rehabilitation.

The infrastructure cluster is headed by Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, social services cluster by Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, resettlement cluster by housing czar and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Support services cluster is headed by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Secretary Arsenio Balisacan of the National Economic and Development Authority, while the livelihood cluster is headed by Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo.

“They will submit to my office their respective action plans and programs, and then, we will consolidate and that will form part of the master rehabilitation plan that we will be submitting to President Aquino,” he added.

He said the initial rehabilitation plan has already been submitted to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and they are just waiting for the President to convene a full Cabinet meeting so they could present the plan to him.

Thousands of farmers and fishermen affected by Yolanda would face a looming “income crisis” if they do not get immediate food and livelihood support, according to international humanitarian group Oxfam.

Oxfam said those in the agriculture and fisheries sector urgently need support for the next phase of recovery.

“The reality facing many poor people is that they are going to build back worse – not better. The initial emergency response by the Philippine government and international community saved lives and prevented outbreaks of disease, but we cannot rest on this good work,” said Leo Roozendaal, Oxfam’s Asia deputy regional director.

“The government is talking about the difficult issues that need to be tackled but there is not enough action,” he added.

Roozendaal said strong leadership is needed at all levels to speed up the recovery programs and help the poorest people get back on their feet.

Meanwhile, some 600 farmers and fisherfolk affected by Typhoon Yolanda have urged the government to speed up the rehabilitation of farms and fishing areas in Tacloban City.

The farmers, belonging to the NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NFR) and Fair Trade Alliance which was supported by the international aid organization Oxfam, gathered at the Multipurpose Hall of the University of the Philippines in Tacloban after the typhoon struck. With Paolo Romero, Evelyn Macairan, Mike Frialde, Delon Porcalla, Jose Rodel Clapano, Alexis Romero

FROM THE INQUIRER

Job ‘limitations,’ uncooperative Cabinet execs frustrate Lacson May 7, 2014 10:55 pm by JOEL M. SY EGCO AND CATHERINE S. VALENTE  SENIOR REPORTER AND REPORTER

Presidential Adviser on Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday expressed frustration over the “limitations” of his job, aggravated by uncooperative Cabinet secretaries and local government officials.

“I am really frustrated. Because when I want to do something, I want it done right away. But sometimes you can’t do it because it’s beyond my authority. That’s not within my authority to get things done the way I want [them] done because there is protocol. We follow international protocol and the law. And I am bound by MO [Memorandum Order] 62 that says in so many words my limits,” Lacson said at a news briefing in Malacañang.

The former senator added that he should be given the power to implement by revising the presidential order that created his office and defined his functions.

“That is the ideal situation, I hope it’s changed and the executive order replaced. But I cannot demand. If that’s given to me, then I have to live with it and I’ll maximize my actions given the limitation. That is always my attitude,” Lacson said.

He added that he finds fulfilment in being part of rebuilding areas devastated by the “strongest typhoon that ever hit the planet.”

“I always say that failure is never an option. We must succeed not only for myself but for the victims, the survivors of Yolanda; and for the safety of those who would be hit by future disasters. We can learn so many lessons from this exercise,” Lacson pointed out.

He considers the model for rehabilitation efforts as the one carried out in Banda Aceh after its devastation by the 2004 tsunami.

The appointed rehabilitation czar in Banda Aceh, Pak Kuntoro, accomplished his mission in eight years and he “had all the authority that he needed,” Lacson said.

“He had actually near absolute authority given to him. It took him five months to negotiate his powers and everything was given to him . . . He was wallowing in resources and that made his job easy,” he noted.

The resources for Banda Aceh’s recovery amounted to $7.1 billion and only $4.1 billion was utilized.

Lacson attributed Kuntoro’s success to his “authority or mandate to control the budget, implement and do-it thing, of course, under the existing laws.”

He said he will ask President Benigno Aquino 3rd to approve his recommendation to “go province by province” and to allow cluster groups to immediately implement their submitted rehabilitation plans.

“It is unfair for the hardworking, the proactive to just wait for the lazy,” Lacson pointed out.

Right now, he said, he is practically “breaking the law” by going beyond his mandated tasks only to see his plans implemented.

“We are in effect, you know . . . To say it undiplomatically, we are breaking the law,” Lacson added.

He said two Cabinet secretaries are “uncooperative,” and there are local government executives who are “deadma,” a colloquial term meaning unresponsive or aloof.

Lacson did not name the two Cabinet officials but he could be referring to Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, both members of the Liberal Party headed by the President.

“They know who they are. About two or three of them,” he said.

Lacson said he is hamstrung by delays in coordination with the officials who have been ignoring his requests.

“They say nothing at all. Isn’t that frustrating?” he added. “They do not even respond to official communication and phone calls.”

Lacson said up to now, he has no permanent office in Malacañang and that he “squats” in an office provided by a friend in the private sector.

The former senator, who held a briefing earlier along with Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and Trade Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya, added that rehabilitation work in Yolanda-ravaged communities is on track despite the absence of a master plan.

“If we base it on international experience, Hurricane Katrina took eight years before they reached full recovery. Banda Aceh took eight years also, and Haiti, four years after, and is yet to recover,” Lacson said.
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In the last six months “a lot has happened in the Yolanda avenue, despite the vastness of the area and the extent of devastation. We are not off track and we are doing everything to hasten the process,” he added.

Lacson said the Office of the Civil Defense has completed its post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA) for the devastated areas.

The assessment, which will provide crucial data for forming a rehabilitation plan, is not yet final and is still being vetted.

Without it, Lacson cannot submit a master plan for the rehabilitation.

Last December, the government placed the cost of rehabilitation in Eastern Visayas at P306.8 billion but Lacson said the PDNA lowered the estimate to P104.64 billion.

He attributed this to the earlier intervention by the government and the aid from local and international donors.

Lacson said the master plan will incorporate the recommendations of five clusters, each headed by a Cabinet member—Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson; Vice President Jejomar Binay; Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo; Soliman; and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Neda Director General Arsenio Balisacan.

Governors and the mayor of Tacloban City have also been asked to come up with their own provincial and city rehabilitation plans.

Some lawmakers interpret the absence of a PDNA as showing the “lack of sense of urgency” of officials of agencies involved in the rehabilitation process.

“We have fast-tracked the appropriation of funds for reconstruction and rehabilitation specifically to immediately address the needs of the affected families and communities and yet up until this minute they cannot even come up with the post-disaster needs assessment [PDNA],” Sen. Francis Escudero said.

“This is very sad. Six months after Yolanda, more than a year after the previous disasters we don’t even know what exactly the affected communities need? It is not about what we can give or what we will give. This lackadaisical attitude is prolonging the anguish of victims. It is bordering on the criminal already,” the senator added.

For this year, Congress appropriated P40 billion for post-disaster operations but only P3 billion or less than 10 percent has been spent.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto called on all government agencies concerned to plan and act fast.
WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Escudero to Lacson: ‘Name 2 secretaries derailing rehab’By Macon Ramos-Araneta, Maricel V. Cruz | May. 09, 2014 at 12:01am


Senator Francis Escudero

REHABILITATION czar former Senator Panfilo Lacson should name the two Cabinet secretaries whom he accused of derailing recovery efforts in Yolanda-devastated areas, Senator Francis Escudero said Thursday.

“At least, the list is shorter because there are only two, and not 16. But that is enough so that these secretaries can explain,” Escudero said, referring to Lacson’s earlier refusal to name 16 senators that he said were linked to the pork barrel scam.

Lacson was supposed to appear before the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday, but he sent the director of the Office of the President Assistant for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction or OPARR, Karen Jimeno, instead.

Jimeno told the joint panel that only one cluster out of the five Cabinet clusters created by President Benigno Aquino III had submitted to their office their plans for areas ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda.

She also said the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report, which will be the basis for the rehabilitation master plan, is also awaiting approval from President Benigno Aquino III.

“We are in the process of vetting the infrastructure cluster submission. We are still waiting for other clusters’ plans. We do not have the police power to penalize agencies for not working with us,” Jimeno said.

Escudero, who attended the hearing, recalled Jimeno telling the joint panel that it was only the Infrastructure cluster under Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson that was able to submit their plan for the affected areas.

The other clusters are: Resettlement, headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay; Livelihood, headed by Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo; Social Services, headed by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman; and Support, co-chaired by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

“We will ask him to name the two secretaries [that he says have been derailing the rehabilitation],” Escudero said. “[That way], we can exact payment from them.”

“Being numb is not a crime. That is not a crime under our laws. But at the very least, they should be called to task by the President while they are not doing their jobs,” Escudero added.

Leftist lawmakers in the House of Representatives, however, said the Aquino government should be held “criminally liable” for “gross neglect of duty” over the slow pace of rebuilding and rehabilitation.

“Half a year has already passed since the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda, yet the Aquino administration still doesn’t have a final rehabilitation plan for the devastated areas. It is now apparent that Aquino and his cabinet officials should be held criminally liable,” Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said.

Ridon was reacting to OPARR’s admission before the oversight committee that after six months, the government has yet to come up with “a final, official plan.”

Ridon criticized Lacson for blaming bureaucratic bottlenecks for the delay in rehabilitation.

“Internal squabbling should be the least concern of the Aquino administration and Secretary Lacson. It is not even a valid reason for the delays and bottlenecks in the implementation of rehabilitation and construction efforts,” Ridon said.

“If the Cabinet secretaries cannot work together in an efficient manner, there might be a leadership problem in the Palace. The public is asking: what is President Aquino’s role in all this? Why is he allowing bureaucratic bottlenecks to delay rehabilitation efforts? It reeks of incompetence and complacency, at a time when efficiency and strong leadership are needed,” Ridon said.

Ridon berated Lacson for saying that the only ones suffering from hunger in Yolanda-ravaged communities are those who are too lazy to make ends meet.

“Blaming victims for their indolence is a bigoted and insensitive way of dealing with the plight of Yolanda survivors. The people of Visayas are not indolent – they are hard-working people. The problem is that they have not yet been able to recover from the destruction of their livelihood and there are no viable jobs available for them in the area. And such problems spring, at the final analysis, from the government’s lack of a master plan for rehabilitation,” Ridon said.

During the oversight committee hearing Wednesday, Jimeno said that the delay in the creation of the rehabilitation master plan is largely caused by the failure of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to submit a final “Post Disaster Needs Assessment,” which is a requisite for the creation of the final rehabilitation plan.

“No final plan half a year after Yolanda? This just goes to show that Aquino’s pronouncements of urgent relief and rehabilitation have not transformed into tangible results. This is despite the fact that a separate government agency has been created specifically for rehabilitation efforts, and that Congress has allotted billions of public funds for reconstruction and rehabilitation,” Ridon said.

Ridon noted that while Congress passed a P14.6 billion as supplemental budget for the typhoon survivors and international pledges have reached over P24.9 billion, the government has done little to improve the situation in the typhoon-ravaged provinces of central Philippines.

“The level of incompetence of the national government is courting criminal liability. If this level of ineptitude continues, it can even constitute a betrayal of public trust, an impeachable offense,” Ridon said.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan took President Aquino to task for the worsening plight of Filipino mothers as international organization Save the Children ranked the Philippines as 105th out of 178 countries in its annual State of the World’s Mothers report. With Rio N. Araja


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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