HOUSE leaders expressed full support for the request of President Rodrigo Duterte to pass a supplemental budget for the Taal volcano evacuees.
In separate statements, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Deputy Speaker Michael Romero said the leadership is willing to prioritize the passage of P30 billion supplemental budget in order for the administration to quickly respond to the needs of those affected by the Taal volcano eruption.
Romualdez said under the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, the House of Representatives would give the highest priority to the request of President Duterte.
If need be, Romualdez said, the House leadership is even willing to increase the amount of the supplemental budget to as much as P50 billion for the sake of the “kababayans” affected.
“The House is committed to show ‘malasakit’ and provide families displaced by the explosion of Taal Volcano long-term and permanent solutions to their woes. We are going to coordinate with the Palace to get the full details of the supplemental budget,” Romualdez said.
For his part, Romero underscored the need to have supplemental budget because the P16-billion national disaster risk reduction and management fund, formerly calamity fund, in the national budget for this year is not enough.
Romero explained that of the P16 billion, P3.5 billion is reserved for the rehabilitation of Marawi City, while P5 billion is allocated for communities devastated by last year’s earthquakes in the Davao-Socsargen regions.
“Thus, the President can only use P7.5 billion of this year’s calamity fund for disasters,” Romero noted.
Aside from approving whatever amount the President requests for Cavite and Batangas, Congress has to augment the calamity fund.
“We have to give the Chief Executive enough money to respond to calamities,” he added.
In a related story, Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto proposed the creation of a commission that would assist the victims of the Taal volcano’s restiveness.,
In her privilege speech, the actress-turned-politician stressed the need to have a special group that will be tasked to address the concerns of the evacuees to be assisted by the Local Government Units in Batangas, Laguna and Cavite.
To date, Santos-Recto said that there are 41,000 families staying in different evacuation centers in the three provinces.
“I propose to this Chamber for the creation of Taal Commission at the appropriate time – the relief rehabilitation and assistance of those affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano,” she said.