Panay Island Rehabilitation and Restoration Task Force

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo personally designated Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez, Sr. to chair the Panay Island Rehabilitation and Restoration Task Force through Malacañang Administrative Order No. 230 dated July 25, 2008.

The order specifically charged the task force to lead in the rehabilitation of Panay Island and the rest of provinces in Western Visayas damaged by typhoon Frank last June 21-22 and shall be headed by the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development (CORD) of whom Gonzalez is the only Cabinet Secretary in the region.

This was pointed out by Gonzalez in answer to detractors questioning his position as the task force head. The other members of the task force under his command are the chair of the regional development council, governors and city mayors of affected provinces and cities, chair of the HUDCC, departments of agriculture, social welfare, public works and highways, environment, budget, transportation, energy, education trade and industry, labor and employment, national defense, Department of Interior and Local Government and a private sector representative.

Cong. Niel C. Tupas, Jr. of the fifth district of Iloilo had questioned the position of the justice secretary to head the Panay task force “who should not handle Panay typhoon funds.” He said it is highly illegal and unconstitutional since Gonzalez is the justice chief with no specific relation to the rehabilitation fund.

The fund to be taken from the 2008 national supplemental budget was initially reported P15 billion but was downgraded to some P9.2 recently due to lack of national government funds.

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