Lacson stays as rehabilitation czar

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

MANILA -- Former Senator Panfilo Lacson was ordered by the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday to comment on the petition questioning the legality of his appointment as the lead person to oversee rehabilitation projects in areas ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last November.

At the same time, the Court junked the request of petitioner Louis Biraogo to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) that would have stopped Lacson from continuing his duties as Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery.

Biraogo said Lacson's appointment under Memorandum Order 62 must be voided, noting that his task to implement post-disaster rehabilitation programs of the government overlaps with the mandate of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

He said MO 62 violated the legislative power of Congress when it "effectively" amended or modified Republic Act 10121, which created the NDRRMC.

The businessman added that Lacson's functions belong to the Secretary of Defense, who heads the NDRRMC.

Section 6 of RA 10121 directs the NDRRMC, among others, to submit proposals to the President on how to "restore normalcy in the affected areas" including "calamity fund allocation."

MO 62, on the other hand, empowers Lacson to coordinate with the NDRRMC and local government units (LGUs) to craft short to long-term rehabilitation programs, propose funding support to the President and mobilize government agencies and request the private sector and non-government organizations (NGOs) for assistance in carrying out his mandate.

Lacson, who was appointed to the post last December 6, said he will follow whatever decision the SC issues on the case. He has 10 days to submit his comment on the petition.

"The appointment of Secretary Lacson pursuant to MC No. 62 seeks to harmonize and unify multi-sector and multi-agency efforts to ensure effective and efficient implementation of plans and programs pursuant to the build-back-better principle," said Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. (Sunnex)

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