MANILA, Philippines – Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo “Ping” Lacson met with President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday, December 23, to discuss his departure from post-Yolanda reconstruction duties in February 2015.
Lacson also pitched to the President his transition proposals and some reforms concerning the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
In a text message to Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr, Lacson said that he and President Aquino “agreed in principle to wind up my duties” as head of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) on February 10, 2015.
By then, the transition of Yolanda rehabilitation duties to the NDRRMC shall have been completed, Lacson said, adding that the agency is “where the four-phase cycle of addressing disasters rightfully belongs.”
He also told Aquino about the timeliness of the transition, since Republic Act 10121 or the NDRRMC Law will be under mandatory review by Congress on or before May 27, 2015.
“We had a good talk. I explained to the President the wisdom of strengthening [the NDRRMC], especially in the area of rehabilitation and recovery, which admittedly is the biggest gap among the 4 thematic areas” of disaster risk reduction and management, said Lacson.
He proposed that the administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, who is concurrently the NDRRMC executive director, Undersecretary Alexander Pama, be elevated as co-vice chairman for disaster rehabilitation and recovery alongside the director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). (FAST FACTS: The NDRRMC)
“I also suggested the automatic release of the budget (P80 billion for 2015) from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to NDRRMC para isang layer na lang ang vetting (to limit the vetting to one layer),” Lacson said.
It would deviate from the current practice, where the national government agencies “request for funds from DBM for vetting, after which the latter will have to endorse the same to NDRRMC for a second round of vetting, before referring to OPARR,” he continued.
President Aquino “was intently listening and taking notes,” Lacson said.
On Sunday, December 21, Lacson announced his plans to step down as Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery in February, saying that his office has already served its purpose. – Rappler.com