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Tacloban mayor says Lacson tirades slowed down Yolanda rehab efforts

(Updated 10:13 p.m.) Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez on Monday blamed Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson for the delay in the recovery efforts in the Yolanda-hit city.

"It slowed down the progress, not only that, nagkakaroon na ng doubts. Imbes na magtrabaho, nagra-rally-rally na ang mga tao riyan," Romualdez told reporters after the weekly press conference, “Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel,” referring to Lacson's recent criticisms against his administration.

"You are creating a fight which is totally unnecessary and that 's not your role as a coordinating body," he said of Lacson.

Lacson, who as the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery is tasked to oversee the rehabilitation efforts following last year's super typhoon Yolanda, has accused Romualdez of non-cooperation in the rehabilitation efforts, and of supporting anti-government protests.
Lacson last week singled out Tacloban City's rehabilitation and recovery efforts allegedly for being "below par."
The OPARR Secretary explained that Romualdez refused help from the national government. 
He said that Romualdez sought his help to get Tacloban's internal revenue allotment in advance. 
"I seek the help of DBM (Department of Budget Management)," Lacson said. "Lo and behold, he refused to accept what he earlier requested."
Likewise, Lacson accused Romualdez of supporting anti-government protesters. He claimed that anti-government placards were found at the back of Tacloban city hall. 
He chided the mayor, saying: "We are calling all local government chiefs to put the interest of your constituents before any personal or political agenda you may have."

Turning the tables

But on Monday, Romualdez turned the tables on Lacson and said the rehabilitation czar was the one who was politicizing the rehabilitation.

“Nagkakaroon ng malaking bahid pulitika ang nangyayari. He has to remove that, to take that out so we can move forward,” he said.

Still, Romualdez said he is open to dialogue with Lacson. “[Lacson] drew the first blood… I am just responding to his accusation,” he said.

Lacson, for his part, begged off from commenting on Romualdez's accusations, saying he would rather focus on his job.
"Everything that I said during the policy forum last Monday was clear and accurate. I would rather move on and focus on the rehabilitation of the local government units hit by Yolanda, Tacloban included," Lacson told GMA News Online in a text message.

Media ploy?

Romualdez claimed that Lacson's pronouncements last week at the Philippine International Convention Center may be a "media blitz" to divert the public's attention for President Benigno Aquino III's absence in Tacloban during the commemoration of the Yolanda anniversary. Aquino, instead, visited Eastern Samar.

"I was totally confused, amazed, and surprised when Secretary Lacson made that announcement in PICC. It was not a proper forum. If he has a problem, he should have consulted us," he said, noting that international donors were present during the event.

"We want to attract more donors. It was very damaging, very discouraging," Romualdez added.


Romualdez called anew for Lacson's resignation as the rehabilitation czar, saying Lacson was "no longer effective" on his post.

"We don't need to quarrel or pick a fight. If he is not happy with his job, he should resign because he is no longer effective," he said.

"He keeps complaining… Kulang sa power, pera, walang budget… If you are a public servant you can't complain," he added.

To further avoid alleged politicking over the rehabilitation program, Romualdez challenged Lacson to swear before the people that he will not seek office in the 2016 elections.

"Mag-pledge kami na walang tatakbo sa 2016 para ma-depoliticize ito," he said.

50% complete

The Tacloban mayor said they have yet to see the rehabilitation masterplan approved by Aquino so they have no clue yet on what projects to prioritize based on that.

Meanwhile, the local government is moving some 3,000 families out of danger zones and transfering them to permanent homes, Romualdez said.

"We're moving. Because it is a city, maraming aspeto ang tinitignan pa natin. But overall, I would say we are about 50 percent to 60 percent there," he said. —KBK/NB, GMA News