House to aid rehab of Taal calamity sites

THE House of Representatives will help in the rehabilitation of Batangas and other provinces affected by the Taal volcano phreatic eruption which displaced thousands of residents and killed animals and plants.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has directed the House Committee on Disaster Management, chaired by Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres,  to coordinate with other  committees like Agriculture, Tourism and Trade and Industry and start developing a comprehensive rehabilitation plan.

Cayetano said this is an initial step from the House while Congress is still deliberating on the measures creating the Department of Disaster and Resiliency (DDR).

Cayetano specifically wanted to help municipalities and cities in Batangas, Cavite and Laguna.

“We know that the local government units and other government agencies are already handling the rescue and relief operations so Congress can focus more on planning for the rehabilitation efforts,” Speaker Cayetano said in a statement. 

“A comprehensive rehabilitation plan will entail funding, logistical and operational support from various national government agencies. Different House committees and relevant government agencies as well as other urban planning experts can work on this plan to ensure that it is disaster-resilient and sustainable,” Cayetano stressed.

Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) earlier announced that prolonged eruption of up to seven months could be the worst case scenario for the erupting volcano. 

“We need to collectively develop short-term and long-term plans to restore and rehabilitate the affected areas to reinvigorate tourism and business in the affected provinces the soonest time possible,” he said. 

The 2020 General appropriations Act allocates a total of P16 billion for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund.

Out of this amount, there is P3.3 billion for aid and relief and rehabilitation services to communities affected by calamities and P4.2 billion allocated for repair and reconstruction of permanent structures including capital expenditures.

“Let us stand strong with our countrymen who have been affected by Taal’s ash fall,” Cayetano said.