HOUSE Majority Leader Martin Romualdez described the out-of-town plenary session in Batangas City as very productive and a move that brought the legislators closer to people.
In an interview, Romualdez expressed gratitude to the members of the Congress who have shown their unity, support for the leadership and compassion for the people of Batangas adversely affected by Taal volcano eruption last January 12.
“It’s very productive session, in fact we have a very very overwhelming attendance. Mas maganda, mas mabilis magpasa ng initiatives at measures, this led to a historic event,” Romualdez said.
It was Romualdez who proposed the conduct of plenary session in Batangas City since many lawmakers wanted to see the situation in Batangas and give help to the evacuees.
During Wednesday’s session, the House adopted two resolutions aimed at supporting President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to provide at least P30 billion supplemental budget for the victims of the natural calamity.
Romualdez, whose district in Leyte was once devastated by super typhoon Yolanda which killed thousands, said the real intention of the session is to tell the people that members of the House are with them all the way to rehabilitation.
“We are behind you, hindi kami malayo, we are with you. Iyon talaga ang tunay a mensahe,” the House leader said.
“Sa ilalim ng liderato ni Speaker Cayetano nandito kami kasi we want to bring the House closer to the evacuees, to personally witness their grievances and know their specific needs and look for permanent solutions,” he added.’
Meanwhile, local government officials and evacuees expressed their gratitude for the opportunity given to them by the House of Representatives to share the urgent concerns, uncertainties and sentiments of their “kababayans” who have suffered from the continuous volcanic unrest.
The House assured the Taal victims that their problems aired during the Plenary Session held in Batangas will be addressed through the support of concerned agencies and swift passage of the supplemental budget to fund the rehabilitation plan.
The House leaders have committed to expedite the deliberations of the Department of Disaster Resilience but said they don’t want to disrupt their current programs especially the PHIVOLCS that is actively monitoring the situation in Taal. Earlier, the Committee on Appropriations approved the funding provisions required under the Disaster Resilience Bill.
Twelve resource persons who spoke in behalf of the Taal victims included Mayor Daniel Reyes of Agoncillo, Batangas, Mayor Lester De Sagun of San Nicolas, Batangas, Karen Olvina of Agoncillo, Batangas, Barangay Chairperson Jocelyn Bayanay of Alas-as, San Nicolas Batangas, Barangay Captain Ramon Gamo of Pulang Bato, San Nicolas, Batangas, Edwina Bilog, Tour Guide from San Nicolas Batangas, Merthel Evardome, School Division Superintendent of Batangas, ABC President Aileen Ocampo, Mr Ramil Alcazar, Evacuee from Molinete, Laurel, Julie Ann Betita from Magallanes Square Hotel, Tagaytay City, Pastor Caesar Hernandez and Pastor Adiel de Torres from Good Shepherd Baptist Church.
“Babaunin po natin pag-uwi ang mga bilin ng ating mga evacuees, barangay captains, at mayors today,” said Cayetano, who presided the session.
Cayetano underscored that “in times of calamities the people need to know that we are here and that we are here to listen to them.”
Most of the victims appealed to the House members about their lost livestock and fish cages, as well as the need for shelter assistance, medical and psychological intervention to help them recover faster.