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Solon hails expanded task force for Bicol rehab

A BICOLANO lawmaker on Thursday welcomed Malacañang’s creation of an expanded, special inter-agency task force to take charge of rehabilitating Bicol and other places across Luzon affected by the three devastating typhoons that struck Luzon in barely two weeks’ time.

“We welcome the apparent expansion of the special task force that President Rodrigo Duterte created over the weekend to include Camarines Sur and the rest of Bicol, Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon), Cagayan Valley and the other places devastated not only by typhoon Ulysses but also by tropical depressions Rolly, Quinta and Siony that hit the country over the last two weeks or so,” Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said.

Based on a Malacañang announcement this week, Villafuerte said “it is my understanding that the task force that Mr. Duterte created last weekend will now take charge not only of providing immediate relief and rehabilitation in the places worst hit by typhoon Ulysses but also in provinces affected by the three other cyclones that struck the Philippines one after the other in barely a couple of weeks.”

Media reports had quoted President Duterte as saying in a televised address last weekend that “Kaya sa madalian, gumawa ako ng hakbang, creation of a task force. Ito naman, I directed them to streamline para madali ang rehabilitation efforts affected by the typhoon,” apparently referring to storm Ulysses.

Villafuerte had also called on the two chambers of the Congress to set aside a bigger calamity fund in the proposed General Appropriations Bill (GAB) of 2021, with “a lion’s share of his proposed bigger calamity budget in next year’s GAB going to relief and rehabilitation work in Camarines Sur and the rest of Bicol along with the other places devastated by three successive typhoons in barely two weeks’ time and the economic fallout from the prolonged pandemic.”

The House resumed session this week following the month-long congressional break.

The Senate reopened earlier a week ago so it could start working on the House-transmitted GAB for 2021, but it had to suspend session anew amid typhoon Ulysses, which inundated many places and caused widespread power blackouts and water supply disruptions all over the metropolis.

Villafuerte said that even before the onslaught of the latest tropical depressions, the calamity funds of the LGUs in badly-hit places were probably depleted already, having been used for their respective localities’ corona-virus disease-19 (COVID-19) efforts.

“Camarines Sur, for one, and other Bicol provinces have suffered the fourfold blow by the lingering COVID-19 outbreak, super typhoons Quinta and Rolly two weeks ago, and, just last week, storm Ulysses that pummelled the province and other places in Luzon, including Metro Manila,” Villafuerte said.

Publication Source :    People's Journal