Aquino on Lacson: He’s a no-nonsense person

President Aquino defends his selection of the controversial Ping Lacson as 'rehabilitation czar'

MANILA, Philippines – A day after former senator Panfilo Lacson’s appointment as rehabilitation czar was confirmed by the Palace, President Benigno Aquino III defended his selection of Lacson, calling him a “no-nonsense person.”

In a media forum on Tuesday, December 3, Aquino said he picked Lacson to oversee government’s massive and costly rehabilitation and reconstruction program for areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) because he is straight to the point.

The President also said that having an individual fully focused on the relief efforts would hasten recovery.

“The members of the Cabinet have their normal functions, then you also have the imperative to get our people back in a better condition at the soonest possible time. So the attention is divided between the two obligations right off the bat,” he explained.
“Having Ping Lacson at the center wherein he’s a no-nonsense guy, focused solely on Yolanda’s rehabilitation will undoubtedly achieve the targets sooner. And that is, I guess, why we look at the unique capabilities of Senator Lacson to be able to deliver.”

The President met with Lacson in Malacañang on November 29, where they discussed in broad strokes what his functions would be. Lacson texted Aquino on Sunday, December 1, that he was accepting the offer to head rehabilitation.

Aquino also vowed transparency in the use of international aid for recovery efforts through a website called FAiTH or the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub,  which he said “shows what has been received and where it has gone to and that has been up for, I think, about two weeks or so.”

Lacson said as rehabilitation czar, Aquino told him “transparency in the use of funds” is a priority, although the details of his job has yet to be outlined in an Executive Order. He said the President was concerned about reports that foreign relief goods were repacked and sold to the victims.

The Philippines has received P18.206 billion or US$414.625 million in pledged foreign assistance as of November 28.

Lacson, an Aquino ally, was also the former chief of the Philippine National Police. He was known for his investigative skills and strong stance against kidnappers and car thieves and earned both praise and criticism for this. The former senator was also implicated as the alleged mastermind of the Dacer-Corbito double murder case and went into hiding for 13 months in 2010. He surfaced after the Court of Appeals cleared him.

The most powerful typhoon to make landfall, Yolanda killed 5,670 and left thousands homeless. It flattened entire towns and cities, taking away people’s livelihood. Lacson said his timeline for accomplishing his job will be from December 2013 to June 30, 2016. –

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