DRILON: LP NOT ADOPTING BINAY AS PRESIDENTIAL BET 

AUGUST 5 --Senate President Franklin Drilon denied on Tuesday that the Liberal Party (LP) is keen on adopting Vice President Jejomar Binay as its standard-bearer in the 2016 elections. Drilon, an LP executive committee member, said there has been no discussion on the rumored plan of his party. "All I can say is that the spin masters are having their day. There is no such thing (plan to adopt Binay)," Drilon said in an interview on ANC's Headstart. The Senate leader said LP's decision will still be influenced by President Aquino, the party's chair. "Certainly, the president will anoint somebody who will continue the reforms and who can show that indeed he is a candidate that has supported the reforms that were done by the president," he said when asked if LP would select someone outside the party.

But Drilon also said that the LP will support Interior Secretary Mar Roxas if and when he finally makes his decision to run for president. Asked on whether a coalition between the LP and Binay is possible, Drilon said "anything is possible under the sun." On Monday, Binay said he had received raw information that the LP was considering either to adopt him in 2016 or to coalesce with the United Nationalist Alliance. Binay, however, said there were no formal discussions yet on the matter, but he added that "nothing is impossible in politics." * READ MORE...

ALSO: Binay thanks Aquino sisters for support  

AUGUST 8 --This early, the sisters of President Aquino have cast their lot with Vice President Jejomar Binay, the first among presidential aspirants who has declared that he will run for the highest post in the land in 2016. Acknowledging the gesture, Binay thanked the Aquino sisters, saying the ties between their families “transcended politics.”
TV host and actress Kris Aquino declared her and her three sisters’ support for Binay as a potential successor of the President on her program with cohost Boy Abunda on Tuesday night. Kris was reacting to Binay’s statement that the ruling Liberal Party (LP) could adopt the Vice President as its standard-bearer in the coming presidential election.
“My sisters and I have been talking about it [LP adopting Binay], and we say that if this can bring about unity as … we’re not enemies… and if he continues what Noy has started, why not?” the youngest of the Aquino siblings said in Filipino. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Aquino’s running mate in 2010, is the LP presumptive presidential candidate in 2016.

A statement issued by Binay quoted Ballsy Aquino-Cruz’s interview in a news program on Wednesday night in which she also declared her support for the Vice President. In the interview, Ballsy said she wanted peace and was “grateful” to people who may be outside the administration party but were “thinking of ways to improve our country to improve the lives of the people.” Binay, a human rights lawyer during the Marcos regime, belongs to the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), a group he formed with former President Joseph Estrada and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile a few months before the 2013 midterm elections. The eldest of the Aquino children, Ballsy said Binay was among those who fought the Marcos dictatorship that was why their families experienced difficult times together. “That’s why I’m happy that he felt that way. If he wants to continue what Noy has started, the better,” Ballsy said in Filipino in her interview on TV Patrol. Humbled --Thanking the sisters for their trust and support, Binay said he was “humbled” that they would see him as someone who could continue the President’s “good programs.”
“I share their view that the welfare of our kababayan (countrymen) should always come first and should not be compromised by partisan politics,” said the Vice President. * READ MORE...

ALSO: CJ Sereno, SC execs snub House probe on Judiciary Development Fund  

AUGUST 5 --Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and other Supreme Court officials on Tuesday snubbed the House of Representatives' investigation on the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF). Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Justice, invited to Sereno, the high court's deputy court administrators, finance officers and auditors to the hearing on what administration allies call the judiciary's pork barrel. Sereno, through a representative who read her statement before the panel, called the invitation as the head of a co-equal branch of government "inappropriate" and "premature" at the initial stage of the probe.

Sereno said the Supreme Court should not sacrifice judicial independence and fiscal autonomy in its participation in the probe, which is yet to be decided by the associate justices. She also said the invitation was done on short notice. The hearing looks into the validity of calls to abolish the JDF, created through Presidential Decree 1949. The inquiry follows the Supreme Court's decision to scrap congressional pork barrel funds amid the embezzlement scandal. Tupas said in a radio report that the Supreme Court's inputs and explanations are needed in the probe on the P38 billion unused savings under the JDF. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT...

ALSO: House moves vs Sereno hit; Palace hands off 

AUGUST 8 --Even as Malacañang distanced itself from some of its congressional allies’ threat to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, court employees on Thursday slammed the House of Representatives’ ouster move. Sen. Francis Escudero said it could be part of the Aquino administration’s retaliation against the high court. But still, there’s no excuse for Sereno and the justices not to explain the alleged misuse of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), said Escudero, chair of the Senate finance committee. “The executive [branch] has no participation in whatever move pertaining to impeachment,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told reporters.

The court employees defended the JDF, a source of allowances that they said came from their own hard work through the collection of fees and even the bulk sale of excess copies of court documents to junk shops. Jojo Guerrero, president of the Judiciary Employees Association of the Philippines (Judea), said the impeachment threat seemed to be aimed at influencing how the high court would decide on Malacañang’s appeal to the ruling that nullified the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The high court declared the program unconstitutional on July 1, prompting President Aquino to warn of a collision between the coequal executive and judiciary branches.
Soon after, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. launched a probe of the JDF, which he described as the judiciary’s pork barrel, with the goal of abolishing the fund. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) Palace: Rehab plan completed no word yet on Lacson resignation 

AUGUST 5--Malacañang on Tuesday said it has yet to receive word on the supposed plan of Panfilo Lacson, Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR), to resign. “Hindi pa po tayo nakakakuha ng opisyal na kompirmasyon hinggil sa mga ulat na iyan,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press briefing. (We have yet to receive official confirmation of that report.)

Lacson, during a radio interview on Sunday, said he was ready to resign after accomplishing what he was tasked to do, which was to finish a rehabilitation plan for areas devastated by Super Typhoon “Yolanda.” He said his office has no power to implement projects only to serve as an oversight body. But Coloma said what’s important was that a Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) has already been submitted by Lacson. “Nasaksihan naman natin iyong pag-turn over ng walong volumes na mahigit sa walong libong pahina na detalyadong pag-uulat dahil ito ay nakabatay sa Post-Disaster Needs Assessment na isinagawa at nakumpleto na ng mga local government units,” he said. (We’ve witnessed the turn-over of the eight volumes of more than 8,000 pages of detailed reports based on the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment implemented and completed by local government units.) * READ MORE...

ALSO: Lacson wants more rehab powers 

AUGUST 5 --Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said he will not resign from his post but will ask President Benigno Aquino 3rd to give him more powers to oversee implementation of the country’ biggest rehabilitation effort. Speaking at the Bulong Pulungan media forum, Lacson noted that his authority limits his role in the implementation of programs and projects in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda. The former senator has been serving as “overall manager and coordinator,” being the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery, a post Aquino created in the aftermath of the typhoon.

Lacson said he will meet with the President to discuss the “way forward” for his office. He submitted the P170.9-billion Yolanda rehabilitation plan to Aquino on Friday. “Kasi tapos na ‘yung plano, what’s next? ‘Yun ang sunod na itatanong. Wala tayong implementasyon, pero meron doon sa mandate namin na meron kaming oversight function [Because the plan is finished, what’s next? That’s the next question. We don’t have implementation powers, but our mandate includes an oversight function],” Lacson said. He added that national and local government agencies—which need to handle disasters other than Yolanda—can now implement the plan that his office prepared.

“It is now in the hands of the implementing agencies. I’ve finished my main task, which is to come up with a master rehabilitation plan. I have nothing more to do,” Lacson said. When asked if he will request a broader range of powers, he replied that he just wants to have an authority “to investigate” while the line agencies are implementing the rehabilitation plan. He also wants to have power “to look into the delays in the implementation” and an “authority to call upon law enforcement agencies.” “Siguro kung may mga ganyan mas magiging efficient. Kasi sa experience ko sa military, ang turo sa amin pag bibigyan ka ng responsibility, dapat mayroon commensurate authority for you to become effective and efficient,” Lacson said.
* READ MORE...

(ALSO) 8 months after, rehabilitation master plan for Yolanda-hit provinces completed: 8,000 pages, 8 volumes 

AUGUST 2 --(Last part of report: Slow rehab --The government had been criticized for the slow rehabilitation of provinces nearly wiped out by Yolanda, the strongest typhoon to make landfall in the world. Hardest hit were several provinces in the Visayas, including Tacloban City in Leyte, where over 6,000 people were killed and more than 2,000 remained missing.
Lacson said the master plan was the combined work of Cabinet members and local government units through their respective rehabilitation plans. UNDP-funded --The former senator said $10 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the technical support needed to put together the master plan.

The USAID grant enabled technical consultants to go to affected municipalities where they helped mayors put together a local rehabilitation plan that would be matched with the national government’s rehab plan. Consultants who worked with the cluster groups led by Cabinet secretaries were, on the other hand, funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 85 percent done by 2016 --Of the P170.9 billion meant for the plan, P137 billion could already be used for rehabilitation until next year, Lacson said, quoting Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
“This means that around P36 billion in residual amount would have to be released by the budget department or included in the 2015 or 2016 budget, to complete the entire amount needed to build back better [the areas devastated] by Yolanda,” Lacson said. He added that the rehabilitation would be “at least” 80 to 85 percent accomplished before President Aquino completes his term in June 2016. READ FROM THE BEGINNING FULL REPORT....


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Drilon: LP not adopting Binay as presidential bet

MANILA, AUGUST 11, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Louis Bacani - Senate President Franklin Drilon denied on Tuesday that the Liberal Party (LP) is keen on adopting Vice President Jejomar Binay as its standard-bearer in the 2016 elections.

Drilon, an LP executive committee member, said there has been no discussion on the rumored plan of his party.

"All I can say is that the spin masters are having their day. There is no such thing (plan to adopt Binay)," Drilon said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.

The Senate leader said LP's decision will still be influenced by President Aquino, the party's chair.

"Certainly, the president will anoint somebody who will continue the reforms and who can show that indeed he is a candidate that has supported the reforms that were done by the president," he said when asked if LP would select someone outside the party.

But Drilon also said that the LP will support Interior Secretary Mar Roxas if and when he finally makes his decision to run for president.

Asked on whether a coalition between the LP and Binay is possible, Drilon said "anything is possible under the sun."

On Monday, Binay said he had received raw information that the LP was considering either to adopt him in 2016 or to coalesce with the United Nationalist Alliance.

Binay, however, said there were no formal discussions yet on the matter, but he added that "nothing is impossible in politics."

* Senator Serge Osmena said it was a "good political gambit" on the part of the vice president to say that the LP was supposedly considering to adopt him.

"In other words, if you read between the lines, ang sinasabi ni VP Binay, 'mukhang mahina ang kandidato ng LP, kunin mo na lang si Binay,'" Osmeña said.

Read: Noy's LP 'adopting' Binay? Mar unaware

While consistently garnering high scores in performance and election surveys, Binay has made no secret of his plan to seek the presidency in 2016.

Binay's rumored adoption by the LP comes after President Aquino urged Filipinos during his fifth State of the Nation Address last week to choose a presidential candidate who would continue the reforms of his administration.

"What I can tell you is this: if you wish continue and even accelerate the transformation of society, there can only be one basis for choosing my successor: Who will, without a shred of doubt, continue the transformation we are achieving?" Aquino said.

Meantime, Malacañang said the President's priority right now is the implementation of his reforms and not the 2016 elections.

"Wala namang mindset o preoccupation na mag-iisip na tungkol sa kandidato o sa kampanya dahil nga sa panahong ito, mas mahalaga pa rin 'yung pagpapatupad sa mga naipangako," Coloma said. (with a report from Dennis Carcamo)

FROM THE INQUIRER

Binay thanks Aquino sisters for support Family ties transcend politics, Veep says
By Christine O. Avendaño, Gil C. Cabacungan |Philippine Daily Inquirer1:07 am | Friday, August 8th, 2014


Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has declared his intention to run for President in 2016, thanked the Aquino sisters (inset from left) Kris Aquino, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, Viel Aquino-Dee and Pinky Aquino-Abellada for their support, saying the ties between their families “transcend politics.” INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines–This early, the sisters of President Aquino have cast their lot with Vice President Jejomar Binay, the first among presidential aspirants who has declared that he will run for the highest post in the land in 2016.

Acknowledging the gesture, Binay thanked the Aquino sisters, saying the ties between their families “transcended politics.”

TV host and actress Kris Aquino declared her and her three sisters’ support for Binay as a potential successor of the President on her program with cohost Boy Abunda on Tuesday night.

Kris was reacting to Binay’s statement that the ruling Liberal Party (LP) could adopt the Vice President as its standard-bearer in the coming presidential election.

“My sisters and I have been talking about it [LP adopting Binay], and we say that if this can bring about unity as … we’re not enemies… and if he continues what Noy has started, why not?” the youngest of the Aquino siblings said in Filipino.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Aquino’s running mate in 2010, is the LP presumptive presidential candidate in 2016.

A statement issued by Binay quoted Ballsy Aquino-Cruz’s interview in a news program on Wednesday night in which she also declared her support for the Vice President.

In the interview, Ballsy said she wanted peace and was “grateful” to people who may be outside the administration party but were “thinking of ways to improve our country to improve the lives of the people.”

Binay, a human rights lawyer during the Marcos regime, belongs to the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), a group he formed with former President Joseph Estrada and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile a few months before the 2013 midterm elections.

The eldest of the Aquino children, Ballsy said Binay was among those who fought the Marcos dictatorship that was why their families experienced difficult times together.

“That’s why I’m happy that he felt that way. If he wants to continue what Noy has started, the better,” Ballsy said in Filipino in her interview on TV Patrol.

Humbled

Thanking the sisters for their trust and support, Binay said he was “humbled” that they would see him as someone who could continue the President’s “good programs.”

“I share their view that the welfare of our kababayan (countrymen) should always come first and should not be compromised by partisan politics,” said the Vice President.

* Binay said the friendship between the Aquino and Binay families was a “bond that transcended politics.”

Binay is a known staunch ally of the late President Corazon Aquino.

In his fifth State of the Nation Address on July 28, Aquino noted that he and Binay were together during the worst military coup attempt in 1989 against his mother where he was also seriously wounded.

Binay, then mayor of Makati City, earned the moniker “Rambotito” (small Rambo) for brandishing an Uzi submachine gun, ready to defend Cory Aquino against rebel soldiers.

Estrada, now Manila mayor, said that Binay had assured him that he would reject any offer to be the LP guest candidate in 2016.

“I told him (Binay) that there is no need for him to accept any invitation from the LP because he is already way ahead in the surveys. He (Binay) told me that all this talk of being invited by LP was just speculation,” Estrada said. “The media just got its news late.”

‘Binay afraid of my candidacy’

Estrada said that Binay would be making a big mistake if he joined the LP. “UNA will be forced to field a candidate to replace him because there will be no opposition to run against the administration,” he said.

Asked if he was interested in replacing Binay as UNA’s standard-bearer, Estrada replied: “I’m not saying that.”

But Estrada told the Inquirer that Binay himself had recognized that he was the main stumbling block to the latter’s dream to be the next President.

“I am the only candidate he (Binay) is afraid of,” the Manila mayor said. Binay and Estrada are banking on the support of the same base of Class C, D and E voters.

His son, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, was supposed to be Binay’s running mate in 2016 but the senator has been detained on plunder and graft charges in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Binay fueled speculations of an alliance with the LP when he volunteered “raw information” that he received that an LP faction was considering to adopt him as guest candidate in the 2016 elections.

The LP’s presumptive candidate, Roxas, has lagged behind Binay in surveys and has reportedly been given up to the end of this year to boost his ratings and prove he has a chance to win in 2016.

Roxas, who lost narrowly to Binay in 2010, is now rumored as the running mate of Aquino should his LP allies succeed in getting Congress to amend the Constitution and allow the President to run for a second term.

Under Section 4, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, a President is limited to only one six-year term.

CJ Sereno, SC execs snub House probe on JDF (philstar.com) | Updated August 5, 2014 - 5:04pm 6 303 googleplus0 0


In this August 2012 photo, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Punzalan Aranal-Sereno converses with former President Fidel Ramos during the public viewing at the Kalayaan Hall, Malacañan Palace. Malacañang Photo Bureau/Jay Morales

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and other Supreme Court officials on Tuesday snubbed the House of Representatives' investigation on the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF).

Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Justice, invited to Sereno, the high court's deputy court administrators, finance officers and auditors to the hearing on what administration allies call the judiciary's pork barrel.

Sereno, through a representative who read her statement before the panel, called the invitation as the head of a co-equal branch of government "inappropriate" and "premature" at the initial stage of the probe.

Sereno said the Supreme Court should not sacrifice judicial independence and fiscal autonomy in its participation in the probe, which is yet to be decided by the associate justices. She also said the invitation was done on short notice.

The hearing looks into the validity of calls to abolish the JDF, created through Presidential Decree 1949. The inquiry follows the Supreme Court's decision to scrap congressional pork barrel funds amid the embezzlement scandal.

Tupas said in a radio report that the Supreme Court's inputs and explanations are needed in the probe on the P38 billion unused savings under the JDF. - reports from Edu Punay and Camille Diola

FROM THE INQUIRER

House moves vs Sereno hit; Palace hands off By Tarra Quismundo, TJ Burgonio |Philippine Daily Inquirer3:25 am | Friday, August 8th, 2014


Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Even as Malacañang distanced itself from some of its congressional allies’ threat to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, court employees on Thursday slammed the House of Representatives’ ouster move. Sen. Francis Escudero said it could be part of the Aquino administration’s retaliation against the high court.

But still, there’s no excuse for Sereno and the justices not to explain the alleged misuse of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), said Escudero, chair of the Senate finance committee.

“The executive [branch] has no participation in whatever move pertaining to impeachment,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told reporters.

The court employees defended the JDF, a source of allowances that they said came from their own hard work through the collection of fees and even the bulk sale of excess copies of court documents to junk shops.

Jojo Guerrero, president of the Judiciary Employees Association of the Philippines (Judea), said the impeachment threat seemed to be aimed at influencing how the high court would decide on Malacañang’s appeal to the ruling that nullified the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The high court declared the program unconstitutional on July 1, prompting President Aquino to warn of a collision between the coequal executive and judiciary branches.

Soon after, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. launched a probe of the JDF, which he described as the judiciary’s pork barrel, with the goal of abolishing the fund.

* Last November, amid public outrage over the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. The PDAF was a source of kickbacks for lawmakers.

“What we feel is that this (impeachment threat) is to indirectly or even directly pressure the Chief Justice, to influence how she will decide on their case, their MR (motion for reconsideration),” Guerrero said.

“They are saying they want her impeached even without data, without an investigation. We feel that if you’re saying that even without evidence, you’re threatening [the Chief Justice],” he told the Inquirer.

On Wednesday, several lawmakers said Sereno could be held accountable for corrupt practices and betrayal of public trust in connection with allegedly questionable disbursements of the JDF, including purchases of motorcycles, computers and handguns.

The threat came a day after the Chief Justice declined an invitation to appear in the Tupas-led House committee on justice’s inquiry into the JDF.

Inappropriate

In a letter to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Sereno said it “might be premature” and “inappropriate” for her to appear in the hearing, reminding the House of judicial independence and what is supposed to be a harmonious relationship between coequal branches.

At a Senate press forum, Escudero said the timing of the threat to impeach Sereno was bad.

“Although that appears to be a retaliatory act, if there’s an issue that should be explained. After all, no one is above the law,” the senator said. “The issues and the principles of accountability and transparency apply to all even to the Supreme Court, even to the Chief Justice as it does with the President and all of us.”

Escudero, however, recognized Sereno’s prerogative to skip the hearing.

The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), among the petitioners against the DAP, said the impeachment threat was an “implementation” of Aquino’s July 14 speech, in which he defended the DAP and asserted good faith in enforcing the stimulus program.

“Impeachment threats against Supreme Court justices over the JDF are an obvious attempt to arm-twist the Supreme Court to change its decision on the DAP… The system is so rotten that lawmakers who benefited from the DAP are now threatening the justices who voided the practices under the DAP,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr.

Employees jittery

As administration allies had the numbers in Congress, Guerrero said court employees were “jittery” and were preparing for the possibility that the articles of impeachment might be filed soon, with all the requisite signatures.

The accusation that the JDF was misused apparently hurt court employees, who said that they worked hard to contribute to the fund.

Amiel de Vera, president of the Associate of Court of Appeals Employees (ACAE), said they even sold their stockpile of unclaimed or archived court documents to junk shops (bid out of course) to save on judiciary resources and add to the fund.

“If you notice, when you talk about alleged misappropriations in the JDF, nobody goes out to protest against it because people know that it is regularly audited,” De Vera told the Inquirer.

Source of allowance

The JDF, a source of allowances for court employees created through Presidential Decree No. 1949 in 1984, includes funds culled from court fees and other earnings, said ACAE officials. The amount is then divided among employees and released monthly, depending on the salary grade.

Court employees who are paid less get higher allowances under the JDF, while higher-ranked officials with bigger salaries get less.

Through Memorandum Order No. 01-2014 issued on Jan. 7, Sereno authorized the release of “additional cost of living allowance” for employees of the high court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals and lower courts amounting to P64.625 million.

Up to P2,400 a month

Under the memo, personnel receiving a monthly salary of P14,000 or less were allotted P2,400; those receiving between P14,001 and P21,000 an allowance of P2,300; and those receiving P21,001 and above, P2,200.

De Vera joked that the JDF could not be taken away, as employees had already “advanced” these through loans in their cooperative. “We lend P24,000 payable in a year. So, that’s P2,000 a month. We have already promised our JDF to pay for that.”

Virginia Ramos, a single mother serving as a stenographer at the appellate court, said every cent mattered for a parent raising a high school senior on her own.

She lamented that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) wanted to tax even the allowances and fringe benefits of government employees, a measure that state workers’ associations questioned on Wednesday in the high court.

“Our salary is really not enough. That’s why we have to take loans… It (the JDF) is supposed to augment our salaries… but now they want to deduct even more,” she said.

Suit against BIR

Twelve employees’ associations and confederations representing 300,000 government workers on Wednesday asked the high court to stop the BIR from withholding taxes on their fringe benefits, arguing that this violated the Constitution.

Escudero said Aquino should ask Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares to suspend the tax on allowances and bonuses of government workers.

The senator said the BIR Memorandum Order No. 23-2014 imposing a withholding tax on all forms of compensation had come at the wrong time because there had been no increase in the pay of state workers.

“It’s more prudent to do that,” Escudero said when asked if the President should prevail upon the BIR not to implement the memorandum. “Otherwise, there would be a clash, and the situation would worsen. There should be an understanding because their pay has not been increased, and then you reduce their take-home pay.”

After all, Henares “serves at the pleasure of the President,” while Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima is the “alter-ego” of the President, the senator said.–With a report from Christian V. Esguerra

Palace: No word yet on Lacson resignation By Kristine Angeli Sabillo |INQUIRER.net4:58 pm | Tuesday, August 5th, 2014


Rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Tuesday said it has yet to receive word on the supposed plan of Panfilo Lacson, Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR), to resign.

“Hindi pa po tayo nakakakuha ng opisyal na kompirmasyon hinggil sa mga ulat na iyan,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press briefing.
(We have yet to receive official confirmation of that report.)

Lacson, during a radio interview on Sunday, said he was ready to resign after accomplishing what he was tasked to do, which was to finish a rehabilitation plan for areas devastated by Super Typhoon “Yolanda.” He said his office has no power to implement projects only to serve as an oversight body.

But Coloma said what’s important was that a Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) has already been submitted by Lacson.

“Nasaksihan naman natin iyong pag-turn over ng walong volumes na mahigit sa walong libong pahina na detalyadong pag-uulat dahil ito ay nakabatay sa Post-Disaster Needs Assessment na isinagawa at nakumpleto na ng mga local government units,” he said.
(We’ve witnessed the turn-over of the eight volumes of more than 8,000 pages of detailed reports based on the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment implemented and completed by local government units.)

* Coloma also said that based on what he understood from the radio interview, Lacson had indicated that he had finished what was needed and that the plans could then be implemented by other government agencies.

“Hintayin na lang po natin ang iba pang mga kaganapan hinggil dito dahil…Tiyak naman po na magkakaroon ng pag-uusap si Secretary Lacson at si Pangulong Aquino hinggil dito,” he said.
(Let’s just wait for what happens next because…surely Secretary Lacson and President Benigno Aquino III will discuss the issue.)

Meantime, Coloma said Lacson would continue his work as PARR.

.“Wala pong pagtigil o wala pong interruption sa tuloy-tuloy na pagsasagawa ng programa sa rehabilitasyon dahil nakasalalay dito ang kapakanan at kabutihan ng kalagayan ng libo-libong pamilyang Pilipino,” he said.
(There will be no interruption to the continuous implementation of rehabilitation programs because the welfare of thousands of Filipino families relies on it.)

Asked if the President would consider expanding Lacson’s responsibilities or authority, the Secretary merely said that the CRRP will still be discussed by the Cabinet, which will result in new strategies and the division of tasks among agencies.

Coloma reiterated that Lacson estimates that around 80 percent to 85 percent of the rehabilitation goals will be achieved before the term of Aquino ends, although the President could decide to fast track the operations.

He also said that the President is satisfied with the performance of Lacson.

“Sa aking nakikita po ay nasisiyahan ang Pangulo sa kanyang trabaho,” he said.
(Based on what I have seen, the President is happy with Lacson’s work.)

Coloma added that Aquino really wants someone to focus on the rehabilitation of typhoon-hit areas.

FROM THE MANNILA TIMES

Lacson wants more rehab powers August 5, 2014 11:01 pm by CATHERINE S. VALENTE REPORTER MANILA TIMES


Rehabilitation czar Panfilo “Ping’ Lacson explains why he needs additional power at the Bulong-Pulungan media forum on Tuesday. PHOTO BY EDWIN MULI

Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said he will not resign from his post but will ask President Benigno Aquino 3rd to give him more powers to oversee implementation of the country’ biggest rehabilitation effort.

Speaking at the Bulong Pulungan media forum, Lacson noted that his authority limits his role in the implementation of programs and projects in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

The former senator has been serving as “overall manager and coordinator,” being the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery, a post Aquino created in the aftermath of the typhoon.

Lacson said he will meet with the President to discuss the “way forward” for his office. He submitted the P170.9-billion Yolanda rehabilitation plan to Aquino on Friday.

“Kasi tapos na ‘yung plano, what’s next? ‘Yun ang sunod na itatanong. Wala tayong implementasyon, pero meron doon sa mandate namin na meron kaming oversight function [Because the plan is finished, what’s next? That’s the next question.

We don’t have implementation powers, but our mandate includes an oversight function],” Lacson said.

He added that national and local government agencies—which need to handle disasters other than Yolanda—can now implement the plan that his office prepared.

“It is now in the hands of the implementing agencies. I’ve finished my main task, which is to come up with a master rehabilitation plan. I have nothing more to do,” Lacson said.

When asked if he will request a broader range of powers, he replied that he just wants to have an authority “to investigate” while the line agencies are implementing the rehabilitation plan.

He also wants to have power “to look into the delays in the implementation” and an “authority to call upon law enforcement agencies.”

“Siguro kung may mga ganyan mas magiging efficient. Kasi sa experience ko sa military, ang turo sa amin pag bibigyan ka ng responsibility, dapat mayroon commensurate authority for you to become effective and efficient,” Lacson said.

* He added that his 8,000-page master plan consists eight volumes covering 171 cities and municipalities, 14 provinces and six regions in the country.

The master plan was realized through the help of local government units, administration officials and local executives and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Lacson said $10 million from USAID was used for the technical support needed to put together the master plan. The grant allowed technical consultants to go to affected municipalities where they helped the mayors put together a local rehabilitation plan.

Meanwhile, Lacson said the Department of Budget and Management has P137 billion in funds available that can be “frontloaded” in 2014 and 2015.

He added that he is expecting 80 to 85 percent of the projects would be completed by the time Aquino steps down in 2016.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Rehabilitation master plan for Yolanda-hit provinces: 8,000 pages, 8 volumes By Nikko Dizon |Philippine Daily Inquirer5:43 am | Saturday, August 2nd, 2014


THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson submits to President Aquino a copy of the master plan for the rehabilitation of areas hit by Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” one of the world’s strongest typhoons on record. Titled “Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan,” it was like a gift to the President on the commemoration of the fifth death anniversary of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino. JOAN BONDOC

Rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson on Friday submitted to President Benigno Aquino III an 8,000-page, eight-volume master plan for the rehabilitation of provinces hardest hit by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in November last year.

Lacson said the master plan focuses on livelihood, resettlement, social services, infrastructure, gender sensitivity needs, disaster preparedness, climate change adaptation and “other environmental concerns.”

Lacson turned over the much-awaited P170.9-billion “Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan” at the Manila Memorial Park, following the Mass that commemorated the fifth death anniversary of former President Corazon Aquino, the President’s mother.

The master plan was “something unprecedented” because of the data validation that it went through, Lacson said.

“I was informed that this is something unprecedented because we validated [the data]. No one has submitted, anywhere in the world, (such) a comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plan. So I know the world is still watching us—how we will perform, how we will implement the projects. All the clusters of the United Nations are focused on it,” Lacson told reporters after the Mass.

The rehab czar said the national government was unable to proceed with the rehabilitation sooner because funds would not be released without the master plan.
“And it’s not easy to put this plan together. As you can see, this is 8,000 pages, with eight volumes,” Lacson said.

Slow rehab

The government had been criticized for the slow rehabilitation of provinces nearly wiped out by Yolanda, the strongest typhoon to make landfall in the world.

Hardest hit were several provinces in the Visayas, including Tacloban City in Leyte, where over 6,000 people were killed and more than 2,000 remained missing.

Lacson said the master plan was the combined work of Cabinet members and local government units through their respective rehabilitation plans.

UNDP-funded
The former senator said $10 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the technical support needed to put together the master plan.

The USAID grant enabled technical consultants to go to affected municipalities where they helped mayors put together a local rehabilitation plan that would be matched with the national government’s rehab plan.

Consultants who worked with the cluster groups led by Cabinet secretaries were, on the other hand, funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

85 percent done by 2016

Of the P170.9 billion meant for the plan, P137 billion could already be used for rehabilitation until next year, Lacson said, quoting Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

“This means that around P36 billion in residual amount would have to be released by the budget department or included in the 2015 or 2016 budget, to complete the entire amount needed to build back better [the areas devastated] by Yolanda,” Lacson said.

He added that the rehabilitation would be “at least” 80 to 85 percent accomplished before President Aquino completes his term in June 2016.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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