Ping gets Cabinet rank; conflict looms with Mar?
Vice President Jejomar Binay says he is 'saddened' because Roxas appears to be exiting from the presidential race

REHABILITATION. Both former Sen Ping Lacson and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas will be tasked with rehabilitation after Super Typhoon Yolanda. Will they be able to work together? Rappler file photos

MANILA, Philippines – They will both have Cabinet ranks and will handle efforts to improve the lives of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) victims – Mar Roxas as Local Government Secretary and Panfilo “Ping” Lacson as newly designated rehabilitation czar.

The Palace foresees no conflict between the roles of Roxas, who will have to deal with local government officials under his department, and Lacson himself, who will have to oversee massive rehabilitation efforts in parts of Eastern Visayas heavily damaged and devastated by Yolanda. Yet political observers who look ahead to the 2016 presidential elections see otherwise.

Roxas had been criticized for his management of post-disaster relief efforts which he had previously been tasked to oversee. (READ: Haiyan crisis: No ground commander)

In the aftermath of what is perhaps one of the biggest humanitarian crises in history, he said that government had no ground commander calling the shots. Instead what was in place was a “consultative process.”

Vice President Jejomar Binay who had made known his plans of running in the 2016 elections said he was “saddened” because Roxas appeared to be exiting from the race.

“The more, the merrier,” Binay said.

Lacson early on admitted he knows he has to grapple with “dynamics” on the ground, specifically issues between the national and local governments, among local governments themselves, and even within departments.

Binay, who is a friend of Lacson, had offered him his cooperation and help. Binay is also in charge of housing as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council. Housing is a major component of rehabilitation.

Binay is known to be not on the same friendly terms with Roxas, a close ally of the President in the ruling Liberal Party (LP). Roxas gave way to Aquino in 2013, opting to instead run for vice president but lost to Binay. Roxas is seen as the LP’s possible standard-bearer for 2016 but nothing has been announced by the party. 

Same role for Roxas

Roxas’ roles will not change, said Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma over dzRB on Saturday, December 7. “Marami pong mahalagang programang ipinapatupad si Secretary Roxas at iba pang kalihim ng Gabinete,” he added. (Secretary Roxas and other Cabinet Secretaries have a lot of important programs to implement.)

The Executive Order formally designating Lacson as “rehabilitation czar” is being worked on and will be out soon, said Coloma. His role, said Coloma, would entail dealing with Cabinet members. If he is to get things moving, he must be on the same footing as Cabinet secretaries.

When asked how he saw his job, Lacson earlier said, “The objective is to restore and rehabilitate so that is the direction of the EO: as an overall overseer, supervisor of related implementing agencies. These are the agencies with critical responsibilities for typhoon-stricken areas. Their actions must be synchronized or orchestrated. My role here is to be the conductor of the orchestra. The notes must be right, if there is someone out of tune, we will correct.” 

Aquino made the offer to Lacson on November 29 and the former chief of the Philippine National Police accepted on December 1. –

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