9 giant firms lead Yolanda rehab

Paterno Esmaquel II
(UPDATED) Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson says the private sector should be engaged, and 'government should [only] be the fallback

EASIER TO TALK TO. Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson tells reconstruction experts at a forum in Makati that he wants to engage the private sector more because they are easier to talk to. Government should be a fallback, he says. Malacañang photo

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Banking on the private sector for the long-term task of rebuilding, Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson announced on Thursday, January 23, that 9 giant companies promised to lead rehabilitation in most of the areas damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

PLDT and the Razon group, for one, “adopted” the city worst hit by Yolanda – Tacloban.

In a forum in Makati City, Lacson said the following companies pledged to “adopt” at least two thirds of the typhoon-hit local government units (LGUs):

  • Lopez Group of Companies

  • Ayala Corporation

  • Aboitiz Foundation

  • PLDT-Smart

  • SM Group of Companies

  • Metrobank

  • International Container Terminal Services Incorporated

  • Jollibee-Mang Inasal

  • Robinsons Land Corporation

Lacson described these 9 companies as “development sponsors.” Their job, he said, is “to shepherd or take the lead in the reconstruction and rehabilitation.”

These companies divided among themselves 16 out of 24 “development areas,” or clusters of Yolanda-affected towns and cities.

Lacson explained the government is “concentrating more on engaging the private sector,” which is easier to talk to.

“It is my personal belief that government…should not be the only option to bring back central Philippines to its feet. In fact, I keep telling myself, government should be the fallback,” Lacson explained.

Earlier, he said these companies will adopt Yolanda-hit communities with “no strings attached.” Their sole incentive is the “business potential” in these areas.

More donations accepted

In his speech on Thursday, Lacson also said 10 “sectoral sponsors” promised to support needs in education, health, housing, and livelihood.

The government, Lacson added, has put up a Yolanda “multi-donor fund” to accept donations from smaller groups.

Trustees of the multi-donor fund include the following:

  • ABS-CBN

  • GMA-7

  • PLDT-Smart

  • Globe Telecom

  • Washington Sycip

“We’ll make it very, very transparent. That’s why we chose some very reputable personalities to compose the board of trustees,” he said in an interview with reporters after his speech.

In line with this multi-donor fund, Lacson said the government is “about to set up a map-based website that will make sure that all donations can be tracked every step of the way.”

Lacson said he adheres, after all, to a “policy of inclusion.” Despite this, he said he will not “hesitate to go after people, regardless of political affiliations, who will put their personal interest and greed” over rehabilitation. (READ: ‘Kickbacks on Haiyan bunkhouses at 30%’)

One problem, however, is the scope of his authority. On Thursday, Lacson said his weak powers “exacerbate” the job of rebuilding.

Lacson’s appointment, after all, has no “legal weight.” It also leaves him powerless over the budget.  Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.