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House panel to tackle issues of national importance

IN the coming days, the House committee on Metro Manila development will tackle various issues of national importance such as rainwater management in light of the recent destructive flooding due to typhoons, the cashless toll payment system, and issues on credit card, lending, and money remittances, the panel chair said on Wednesday.

“In the coming days, this committee will study the issues of the soon to be implemented cashless toll payment scheme at the NLEX and SLEX, the abusive, usurious, and highly unfair and irregular practices of credit card, lending, and money remittance companies, entities and individuals, and most recently, the unacceptable damage and loss of life brought about by the flooding caused by Typhoon Ulysses and how we can finally prevent such future disasters from happening in the future,” Manila 1st District Rep. Manuel Luis T. Lopez, panel chairman, said in his closing remarks during an organizational hearing of the committee.

The lawmaker from Tondo cited a 2013 Time Magazine article which dubbed the Philippines as “the most exposed country in the world to tropical storms.”

Lopez noted that on the average, 20 tropical cyclones enter the Philippine area of responsibility.

“Why, and how is it,” Lopez asked. “That seemingly every year, we remain witness to such catastrophes? Are there enough disaster mitigations infrastructure and policies in place?”

“Why is it that as recent as a few months past, this committee was conducting hearings on water interruptions and water rationing in Metro Manila like we reside in an arid desert landscape? And now, we have to conduct investigations on why we cannot manage a large inflow of rainwater brought about by tropical storms. There lies a big disconnect in how we manage this most valuable of resources, water– and of which we are lucky to be abundantly blessed with,” he added.

Congress, specifically the House committee on Metro Manila development, should dig deeper into this issue and come up with solutions on properly managing water inflow during the rainy season, and storing it effectively for the dry season, Lopez stressed.

“Let us tackle this problem holistically. Let us look at the effects of urbanization and progress. What mitigating policies and regulations are in place and if the same is being implemented properly. Let us take a deep and scientific look at our water retention and containment structures and facilities if they are being preserved or maintained.

Let us look at the state of our water tributaries. Let us look at why we are one day confronting the problem of water interruptions and rationing and the next day be confronted by the problem of flooding,” the congressman said.

“And finally, who is in charge of all this? A country so blessed with an abundance of water should be able to manage and take care of the blessings bestowed upon it,” he added.

Lopez also thanked the hard working members of the committee and reported that all matters referred to the panel have been acted upon or resolved efficiently.

“But as you well know, this committee does not limit itself merely with matters referred. When the situation necessitates… when the lives and well-being of our Metro Manila residents are adversely affected,” Lopez noted. “This committee does not hesitate to fully exercise its oversight function and power to find solutions to the problems we face today.”