#PINGterview: On Creation of an Office on Disaster Resilience; PNP Procurement Mess | Jan. 14, 2020

In an interview with Senate media, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
– removal of procurement powers from the PNP
– creation of an office on disaster resilience
– proposed cloud seeding at Taal

QUOTES and NOTES:

* CREATION OF DISASTER OFFICE

On questions about govt preparedness to address the calamity at Taal:

“Hindi lang Taal. Pati ibang calamities. Kaya dapat may naka-standby fund and naka-lump sum. Hindi namin kinu-question ang lump sum nature ng disaster fund kasi hindi natin alam kung anong klaseng disaster ang darating para pagkagastusan ng gobyerno.”

There’s also a lot to be desired pagdating sa paggastos ng calamity fund dahil may overpricing din. Pagka emergency medyo lenient ang procurement especially kung may certification ang procurement board na exempt na yan sa bidding, ina-allow ang emergency purchase ng mga kailangan sa calamity. Pero lagi na lang may naririnig tayong overpricing, ghost deliveries.”

On the proposal for a Department of Disaster Resilience:

“Ako nag-conduct ng hearing. As chairman, it will be subject to majority decision. But as chairman, I think a permanent office that is under the Office of the President, not necessarily a department, kasi masyado na ring bloated ang bureaucracy. While meron tayong right-sizing, create tayo ng create ng department. Hindi naka-synchronize doon sa mga policy decisions. Nagkaroon tayo ng Human Settlements, may move to create a Dept of OFW, tapos Dept of Disaster. Parang sobrang bloated na ang bureaucracy. I think an office under the OP should do the job. Kasi sa ngayon ang NDRRMC parang hindi effective because it is a council being chaired and composed of Cabinet secretaries na wala namang focus sa trabaho sa disaster and rehabilitation. So dapat may permanent office but not necessarily as big as a department.”

“Madaling sabihin (na ililipat lang sa bagong department ang tao ng ibang agencies), pero pagdating na meron nang department, siyempre magre-recruit ka ng sariling tao mo roon and then magtatayo ka ng opisina. And then it entails a lot of expenses. Hindi ganoon kasimple mag-create ng department. Popondohan mo pa yan sa national budget. Madaling sabihing na ililipat lang. But how about expertise na necessary? Pwede basta ilipat mo ang galing sa DILG o DSWD or DOLE, para hindi ma-bloat ang bureaucracy? That’s an argument that should be justified. But experience tells us na palaki ng palaki, 1.4M Filipinos na ang employed by government. Para magdagdag pa, baka it won’t serve the purpose anymore. Ang problema, ang OCD seconded mostly from the DND ang personnel nila. Wala silang permanent, meron din pero kakaunti lang. Nakita natin pagdating sa rehab ng areas affected by disasters or calamities hindi ganoon ka-effective ang isang council like the NDRRMC. Kaya dapat i-amend ang RA 10121 but not necessarily create another dept. At least that’s my position.”

When you create a new department there’s a Secretary, then how many Usec, Asec, how many directors? Pull out mo sa iba yan? E di mawawala Usec nila. It’s easier said than done na hindi magdadagdag ng personnel dail pu-pullout lang from other departments. Madaling sabihin. Sa top officials lang ilan na agad yan? Salary grade salary level ang dept head, ang usec.”

“Nasa civil service yan, and kung depende sa legislation. But there are some departments na authorized lang 2 Usec, pero 6 ang Usec nila. Marami ring mga freeloaders na wala namang ginagawa. Title at sweldo lang ang ginagawa nila roon.”

Need for a dedicated office:

“Marawi, wala pa ring nangyayari. Even sa Yolanda, hanggang ngayon during the time of President Aquino he approved a total budget of P167B, ilan pa ang naitutulong doon? And nagkaroon ng Marawi and nagkaroon ng earthquake, and now Taal. Pursigido lang pag bago pa lang ang calamity. Pag lumipas ang 1 taon nakakalimutan na, hindi na nababalikan. That’s the experience we see each time magkaroon ng calamity. Maraming gustong tumulong right after the disaster struck, but after a while nakakalimutan. Dapat may dedicated na office, hindi pupuwede na it is being run by a council composed of department heads who have their own issues and concerns sa kanilang departments. Ang position ko lang, let’s not bloat further the bureaucracy kasi sobrang bloated na tayo.”

Pwedeng (ang head), director level, as long as there’s an office dedicated solely to address calamities and disasters ok na yan. That office can also mobilize personnel from DSWD, DPWH, depende kung anong stage ng reconstruction, rehab or stage ng preparedness. Kasi may thematic areas naman na ina-address yan.”

Pwedeng Executive Order, pwede i-legislate, amendment ng RA 10121. May sunset provision ang RA 10121 na after 5 years dapat i-revisit and introduce amendments. Dapat nangyari ito as early as 2014-2015, I think this was passed in 2010 so dapat 5 years after it was passed dapat na-revisit na because of that sunset provision but it did not happen. Nakaligtaan. Now we’re introducing legislation to create a new department to address calamities. Of course calamities sa atin, they are here to stay. Typhoons lang, nauubos ang alphabet natin minsan in a year, bumabalik sa letter A because we’re being visited by typhoons no less than 20 times a year. And since ang PH since narito tayo sa Typhoon Belt, talagang tatamaan at tatamaan tayo. Medyo nagbago lang because Mindanao now is being more frequently visited by typhoons than Luzon. But it’s still the Republic of the Philippines. Since permanente naman ang calamity sa atin, marami tayong volcanoes, ang earthquake paikot-ikot, we don’t know when we would be hit by the Big One. So dapat talagang may dedicated office. That’s my point of view na huwag isang buong department. Baka di kayanin ng gobyerno. ang utang natin ngayon P7.9T by 2020 for this year I assume it will hit the P8T mark, domestic and foreign, total.”

On proposals for cloud seeding:

“It makes a lot of sense. Kasi di ba poisonous ang maliit na alikabok and hindi nade-detect, based on what we heard from the experts, na ito makaka-affect sa respiratory system natin. So ang cloud seeding will allow dust particles to settle down. Of course hindi raw advisable ang iano ng tubig kasi mag-clog ang drainage, titigas yan parang semento. Ang immediate solution is to wash away the particles, pag dumaan ang sasakyan pag naglalakad tayo especially sila sa areas na directly affected talagang masisinghot nila ang dust. So ang cloud seeding, that’s a good proposal, not only because it came from the SP but it makes a lot of sense. It’s a very sensible suggestion na kaya gawin ng government.”

On Phivolcs’ alleged shortcomings on information dissemination:

“Hindi naman. Kasi ginagawa nila ang monitoring nila. May equipment talagang na naka-standby doon. The mere fact walang nababalitang namatay, I think we should not blame Phivolcs, and just allow them to do their job.”

This is not the time to blame people. Nariyan pa di pa natin alam anong darating. And quite regularly they are giving updates. So I think medyo premature naman na manisi tayo sa ngayon. At the mere fact wala tayong nabalitaang namatay sa pag-erupt ng Taal, I think we should be thankful enough.”

***

* PNP PROCUREMENT ROW:

On the President’s removal of the PNP’s procurement power:

First, the President has all the reason to feel aggrieved kasi he’s always been generous sa PNP pagdating sa support, equipment, even salary, allowances, lahat binigay. So we cannot also blame the President to feel that way. Regarding the legality of withdrawing, I think the President can always do that, as long as hindi ma-violate ang RA 9184, procurement law. And rightly so kasi kung may ganoong misbehavior when it involves public funds, dapat lang talaga alisin ang authority. Besides, in his capacity as chairman of Napolcom, ang SILG may supervision over the PNP. So hindi ito binigay kay Sec Año as SILG, but in his capacity as ex-officio chairman of the Napolcom, kasi under ng Napolcom ang PNP.”

“I think an investigation is under way to determine sino ang culpable, responsible sa ganito kataas na procurement, ang overpricing. Imagine, kung sarili niya kinompare niya procurement sa Davao, I only base this on what I read, na P10,000 pagkatapos makakita siya ng P900,000 plus, medyo unconscionable talaga yan. And ako, I don’t blame him. And tama lang ang ginawa. Basta hindi lang mag-violate sa Government Procurement Act.”

“Over time, di ba ang daming kaso sa Sandiganbayan, rubber boats, helicopter, tapos ang repair ng V150. Lagi na lang may lalabas at lalabas. Kaya some people never learn dahil may mga nakasuhan na, hindi na nila malaman when to stop and how to stop. Hindi lahat pero especially those in the logistics family ng PNP and even the AFP, talagang laging may reports na lumalabas na may overpricing. Ang ginawa ko when I was Chief PNP I would always see to it I would talk to the winning bidder. After the bidding tinatawag ko ang nananalo. And I am telling them in thir faces, pag may narinig akong nagbigay kayo maski kanino riyan, last nyo na ito makakasali sa bidding. And I also would tell my officers na ito pera ng bayan. During my time I don’t think may anomaly na lumabas sa procurement ng supplies. After and before, talagang may procurement problems.”

I always focus on punitive steps, kasi ang preventive mukhang di na nagwo-work, ang constant reminders. Dapat ipakita na kung may ganyan dapat talagang makulong kasi yan ang deterrent. Hanggang walang nakikitang nakukulong sasabihin nila kaya namang malusutan. So dapat ito, after the President has already announced na wini-withdraw niya ang procurement authority from the PNP and having exposed ang ganoong kalaking overpricing, dapat it should be incumbent upon Sec Año na gumawa ng investigation and find out who are responsible. Kasi remember, we’re giving them tens of billions of pesos lalo sa enhancement fund nila. Malaki yan. That’s P2B a year. And aabot ng P10B yan, multi-year procurement yan. Tama lang yan, tama lang na i-withdraw hanggang hindi naimbestigahan nang maayos.”

On what the removal of procurement powers says about the PNP:

They have a lot to do to correct mga anomalous transactions and similar misdemeanors. It came at a time na hindi nakapag-designate ng permanent Chief PNP kasi nahirapan daw siya pumili, tapos may ganyan pang lumabas. I don’t know ano time frame ng procurement, kung ito under the current leadership of the OIC, then I think and it is the Commander-in-Chief that has already spoken, I think pagka ganyan na pinapakita ang displeasure, not only displeasure, not only lack of trust but absence of trust, I think what the President is waiting for right now is to hear from the more senior officers to just volunteer to opt for early retirement to give the President the free hand to choose magkaroon ng deep selection. Kaya in-expand ang list from the original 3 candidates, sabi ni Presidente gusto ko pumili hanggang sa Brig Gen na rango. So I think they should think it over. Kung ganito ang gesture na pinapakita ng Presidente, ng kanilang boss, baka naghihintay na lang ang Pangulo na mag-volunteer na lang ang top-ranking na ‘sige Sir mag-tender kami ng either resignation or early retirement.’ Anyway hindi na rin apektado ang kanilang pension kung few months na lang sila sa serbisyo. At pag 3-star ka na, ang pension mo 4-star na rin yan na maximum, wala nang pension na 5-star.”

On the evolution of greed:

Nag-evolve na ang greed sa ultra-greed. Kailangan ma-determine ni Sec Año ang time frame na nire-refer ng Pangulo sa overpricing na sobra-sobra. Hindi lang heads should roll. Some people should really go to jail.”

“I don’t know what’s happening to this country. Hindi talaga natuto at wala na halos nagbabago in spite of the oft-repeated threats being dished out by the President no less pero tuloy-tuloy pa rin. Why? Ang tanong, bakit? Bakit ganoon? Something must be wrong somewhere. Baka kulang pa ang dikdik ni Presidente. I don’t know really. Ang dami na ring nakulong. Hindi sasabihing mga hoi polloi lang ang nakakasuhan at nakukulong. We hear of legislators going to jail, former governors being convicted. Marami na, pero bakit parang wala lang? Nakapagtataka na rin. What is this phenomenon called corruption na parang hindi ma-abate?

*****

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.