House backs Duterte call for Taal aid

January 22, 2020
Rodrigo Roa Duterte
Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte

BATANGAS City -- The House of Representatives under Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano adopted twin resolutions aimed at supporting President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s call to provide immediate aid and rehabilitation to Taal Volcano eruption evacuees during the unprecedented and historic session held at the Batangas City Convention Center attended by 204 lawmakers.

The plenary adopted House Resolution (HR) No. 662 principally filed on January 21 by Cayetano, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, House Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, Jr., Deputy Speakers Raneo “Ranie” Abu, Dan Fernandez (Laguna), Paolo Duterte (Davao City), and Vilma Santos (Batangas), Cavite Reps. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., Luis Ferrer IV, Abraham Tolentino, Batangas Reps. Mario Vittorio Mariño, Elenita Milagros “Eileen” Ermita-Buhain, Rep. Ma. Theresa Collantes, and Lianda Bolilia to strongly back the supplemental budget for Taal evacuees that President Duterte initially pegged at P30 billion.

“Whereas, the Calamity Fund for the local government units is presently depleting and is insufficient to provide relief and rehabilitation assistance to the affected areas. Whereas, as a response to the disaster, the House of Representatives is willing to participate in necessary efforts to alleviate the suffering of our countrymen and ultimately restore normalcy to the affected regions. Now therefore be it resolved as it is hereby resolved, that the House of Representatives expresses its support and commitment to work with all the concerned agencies to pass the proposed supplemental budget to expedite effective and responsive aid to those affected by the Taal Volcano Eruption,” the resolution said as Romualdez moved for the adoption.

The plenary also adopted HR No. 655 filed on January 20 by Deputy Speakers Raneo “Ranie” Abu (Batangas) and Vilma Santos Recto (Batangas) and Batangas Reps. Mario Vittorio Mariño, Elenita Milagros “Eileen” Ermita-Buhain, Ma. Theresa Collantes, and Lianda Bolilia urging the immediate release of funds for the aid relief, resettlement, rehabilitation, livelihood, development and social programs and services to communities adversely affected by the Taal Volcano Eruption.

HR No. 655 also directed the appropriate House of Representatives’ committee to immediately call the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) for a briefing to assess the situation and determine the needs of the affected localities and the total budget requirements to address the calamity.

“Now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives, as it is hereby resolved to urge the immediate release of funds for the aid, relief, settlement, rehabilitation, livelihood, development and social programs and services to communities adversely affected by the Taal Volcano eruption, and directing the appropriate House of Representatives committee to immediately call the NDRRMC for a House briefing to assess the situation and determine the needs of the affected localities and the total budget requirements in addressing the calamity,” the resolution said.

At the same time Abu, Santos-Recto, Mariño, Ermita-Buhain, Collantes, and Bolilia on Wednesday filed House Bill (HB) No. 5998 to appropriate P30 billion supplemental budget for Taal Volcano victims and rehabilitation.

“[This will] fund the much needed support to families and communities affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano to include immediate relief to affected individuals and families; establish resettlement centers, home sites and town sites for displaced families; provide livelihood and employment opportunities for local residents; construct, repair, rehabilitate, reconstruct public infrastructure needed in the affected communities; and to adopt and implement other interventions that could expedite the return to normalcy in affected localities,” they said.

The plenary also adopted HR No. 655 filed on January 20 by Deputy Speakers Raneo “Ranie” Abu (Batangas) and Vilma Santos Recto (Batangas) and Batangas Reps. Mario Vittorio Mariño, Elenita Milagros “Eileen” Ermita-Buhain, Ma. Theresa Collantes, and Lianda Bolilia urging the immediate release of funds for the aid relief, resettlement, rehabilitation, livelihood, development and social programs and services to communities adversely affected by the Taal Volcano Eruption.

The Cayetano-led House leadership convened the House of Representatives into the committee of the whole Wednesday where lawmakers listened to the representatives, responders from all over Batangas, Cavite and Laguna and the people directly affected by Taal Volcano eruption.

Cayetano challenged the members of the House of Representatives to come up with long-lasting and reliable solutions, programs and mechanisms to respond to calamities and disasters and not just deal with the on-going relief operations.

He underscored that the country needs to do better in rehabilitation of a calamity-stricken province although it has improved its disaster response system over the past years.