MANILA -- There is no more legal obstacle to the appointment of former senator Panfilo Lacson as President Benigno Aquino III's chief coordinator for the rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last year.
Supreme Court (SC) spokesperson Theodore Te said Tuesday that the justices, "after considering the comment" filed by Lacson, dismissed the petition of taxpayer Louis Biraogo since Aquino did not commit grave abuse of discretion for appointing the former legislator.
"Actually, when I heard the petition against my appointment, I didn't feel anything nor got distracted a bit. I'm very focused on my task of rebuilding the Yolanda corridor," Lacson told Sun.Star in a text message.
He said it would have been a relief "more than frustration" if his position as Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery was declared unconstitutional.
"I don't like this job but I'm aware that it's a noble cause that I feel proud and blessed to be part of," the former senator said.
Lacson joined the Aquino Cabinet last December.
Two months later, Biraogo asked the High Court to nullify Lacson's appointment under Memorandum Order 62, noting that his task to implement post-disaster rehabilitation programs of the government overlaps with the mandate of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
He said MO 62 violated the legislative power of Congress when it "effectively" amended or modified Republic Act (RA) 10121, which created the NDRRMC.
The businessman added that Lacson's functions belong to the Secretary of Defense, who heads the NDRRMC.
Section 6 of RA 10121 directs the NDRRMC, among others, to submit proposals to the President on how to "restore normalcy in the affected areas” including “calamity fund allocation."
MO 62, on the other hand, empowers Lacson to coordinate with the NDRRMC and local government units (LGUs) to craft short to long-term rehabilitation programs, propose funding support to the President and mobilize government agencies and request the private sector and non-government organizations (NGOs) for assistance in carrying out his mandate.
The Aquino administration has come under fire recently for not coming up with an official rehabilitation plan six months after Yolanda, which killed thousands of people and damaged billions of pesos in property in the Visayas.
Lacson's office traced the delay to the failure of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to submit a final Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), which is a requisite for the creation of the final rehabilitation plan. (Sunnex)