House urges speedy release of funds to aid Taal victims
By Filane Mikee Cervantes
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — The House of Representatives on Wednesday adopted a resolution urging the immediate release of funds for the aid, relief, resettlement, and rehabilitation of communities adversely affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.
During its out-of-town plenary session at the Batangas City Convention Center, the chamber adopted House Resolution No. 655, which also calls for the release of funds intended for livelihood, development, and social programs and services to assist the affected individuals.
The resolution was filed by Batangas Reps. Vilma-Santos Recto (6th district), Elenita Milagros Ermita-Buhain (1st district), Raneo Abu (2nd district), Theresa Collantes (3rd district), Lianda Bolilia (4th District), and Mario Mariño (5th district).
These funds appropriated under the 2020 national budget include the Calamity Fund or the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund and the appropriations for development and social programs of the national government such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Tourism, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of Trade and Industry.
The resolution also directs the appropriate House 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 in addressing the calamity.
The chamber also adopted House Resolution No. 662 expressing support and commitment of the House of Representatives to work with all the concerned agencies to pass the supplemental budget to expedite the effective and responsive assistance to those affected by the eruption.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House held its first session outside the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City to listen to the immediate needs and concerns of those affected by Taal’s unrest, including barangay captains, mayors, and different representatives from evacuees.
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said the members of the House would like to “witness firsthand” the situation and express their compassion to the people affected by the eruption.
“The resource persons from the various sectors of the affected residents reported their firsthand account of devastations of their residential houses, school buildings, and local government infrastructures. They appeal for assistance to restore livelihood and to rebuild or reconstruct residential houses which were totally destroyed,” Romualdez said.
“They also appeal to medical or psychological intervention. The resource persons also appeal to the national government to allow affected residents to return to their residence in order to feed or retrieve their livestock,” he added.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, the number of families affected by the restive Taal Volcano has now climbed to 71,717 families or 282,021 persons as of Wednesday.
Of the 71,717 affected families residing in Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Quezon, around 39,052 families or 148,987 individuals are being sheltered in 483 evacuation centers.
Meanwhile, the remaining families, whose numbers are still being validated, are being aided outside and are said to be sheltering with families and friends far from the volcano’s 14-kilometer danger zone.
The damage to agriculture in Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna was placed at PHP3.2 billion. (PNA)