HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez yesterday said the positive results of the holding of the first historic out-of-town regular session of the House of Representatives in Batangas City last Wednesday may encourage the leadership to hold another one if circumstances require.
Romualdez, who chairs the powerful House Committee on Rules, said the out-of-town session initiated by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano brought them closer to the victims of Taal Volcano eruption and enabled them to personally hear their grievances which the House of Representatives could act on.
“We are encouraged by the positive results kaya si Speaker baka mag-request pa ng out-of-town regular session kung kinakailangan,” said Romualdez after acting as the floor leader during last Wednesday’s unprecedented and historic session held at the Batangas City Convention Center attended by 204 lawmakers.
“Mas maganda yata at mas mabilis magpasa ng initiatives at measures. Levity aside it was a historic and momentous occasion,” said Romualdez.
“Many of the representatives were able to engage directly with the locals here. We did not want to become a distraction but to be physically present and have personal knowledge of the individual needs, we are more in tune when we craft legislation and initiatives to help the evacuees,” said Romualdez.
As a result of the out-of-town session, the House adopted House Resolution Nos. 662 and 655, both seeking swift and permanent solutions to the problems of Taal Volcano evacuees. Cayetano said the regular session in Batangas City was carefully studied and many sectors were consulted, including the province’s local officials.
“Kung sa tingin naming tama, gagawin namin despite the criticisms. But nakita n’yo naman ang takbo ng buong sesyon, this was really about the people who have to be heard, it wasn’t about the members of Congress,” said Cayetano.
“Well, unang-una hindi kami kumikilos nang hindi pinag-aaralan. So hindi naman kami dumating lang dito, tiningnan namin if it’s outside the immediate danger zone. Tinanong namin kung may gagamit and tinanong namin siyempre ‘yung mga opisyales at tyaka sa evacuation center kung gusto nila, so hindi tayo nagpumilit. So in this world that we have a 105, 110 million Filipinos, may social media, may sasang-ayon talaga at mayroon talagang magki-criticize, but sa leadership ng House kasama ang Minority diyan,” Cayetano said.
Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu thanked the House leadership for directly hearing their concerns, assuring Batangueños that the House of Representatives will work very hard to expedite the passage of supplemental budget for the rehabilitation plan.
“Kaming Batangueño ay nagpapasalamat sa malasakit ng liderato ni Speaker Cayetano. Kami ay tatayo at hindi magpapatalo sa kalamidad na dala ng pagsabog ng bulkan,” said Abu.
Most of the House members who attended the Batangas session personally gave their donations and contributions to the evacuees. “This (session) is a good to personally hand over our aid to local leaders and evacuees in Batangas. Thank you for this opportunity,” said Maguindanao Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu.
Deputy Speaker and Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) party-list Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva underscored the importance to hear the side of the locals affected by Taal Volcano, which can be used in crafting measures aimed at rehabilitating the ravaged areas.
“We in CIBAC Party-List fully supports Speaker Alan Cayetano and the House of Representatives in seizing this once in a lifetime opportunity to sympathize and identify with the victims of Taal volcano eruption in these times of distress and be able to pray for them. On top of the rehabilitation plans that may be developed in the discussions, the resolute decision of the House to troop to Batangas City amidst Alarm 4 level will be a sure source of encouragement, strength and inspiration for our disheartened locals affected by the recent calamity,” said Villanueva.
“Whatever can be said of this action of the Lower House is secondary. What is important is that, before the eyes of history, we did everything at our disposal to extend maximum support and assistance to our affected and displaced kababayans,” Villanueva added.
Villanueva, together with CIBAC Rep. Domeng Rivera also personally joined a relief goods distribution in an evacuation center in Batangas City, one in a series of relief efforts being conducted by CIBAC Party-List in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite and Laguna since last week.