I do not know if this was planned, but the timing of the approval of Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) Secretary Panfilo Lacson’s Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) amounting to over ₱167.8 billion by President Benigno Aquino (PNoy) almost one year after the super typhoon caused havoc in the Visayas region in 2013 is simply phenomenal.
What I mean is that for one year people had still to suffer and endure hardships without the government helping much to alleviate the victim’s plight. I am not saying there was no assistance at all coming from the government, but inadequate is simply the appropriate word for it and inadequacy can be defined in so many terms. We can only thank some NGOs who made up for government’s inability to move fast.
In fact reports say that PNoy’s approval came after much haggling, bureaucratic infighting, and public and media pressure.
Whether PNoy himself lacked the fortitude to make things happen faster or that Secretary Lacson was not given enough power to muscle his way through and make things happen faster is now immaterial. What is important is that, thanks to Lacson, there is now the voluminous CRRP that will serve as a master plan to follow in rebuilding the affected areas.
The CRRP is not called comprehensive for nothing. According to Lacson the post-Yolanda rehabilitation master plan covers four sectors, namely resettlement (P75.6 billion), infrastructure (P35.1 billion), livelihood (P33.6 billion), and social services (26.4 billion). The 18,400 projects listed in the CRRP came from submissions of local government units in the 171 affected cities and municipalities in 14 provinces and 6 regions in central Philippines.
“Once the CRRP is approved, the Department of Budget and Management will frontload the funds to the implementing agencies that will take center stage in the next phase in order to rebuild the communities and improve the lives of the survivors. We are hoping to achieve at least 80 percent completion of these priority projects before the end of the President’s term,” Lacson said.
What is notable here is that Lacson has reported the establishment of a one-stop shop for resettlement to facilitate the building of permanent housing units in affected areas.
The establishment of the one-stop shop for resettlement is in accordance with Administrative Order No. 44, which streamlines the process of issuing permits, certifications, clearances and licenses for housing and resettlement projects.
The aspect of PNoy’s remaining years in office is an important consideration because this, somehow, ties up with the lasting legacy he wants to leave behind after his term expires.
But more than anything, what makes it significant is not just the large scope that needs rebuilding, but the huge amount to be disbursed for the CRRP.
So the question now is: Since the 80 percent completion by 2016 is mere speculation by Lacson, would we have a president by then with the highest moral ascendancy to follow through with the CRRP?
Would it be Jejomar Binay, God forbids?
Is this going to pave the way for PARR Secretary Panfilo Lacson to run for the presidency in 2016 if only to thwart Binay from succeeding in his presidential bid?
Among them, Lacson is a better choice having proven his honesty, having shown his no-nonsense policy and having the character and gumption to rehabilitate and lead this struggling nation.