6 Batangas solons file P30B supplemental budget for rehab of areas devastated by Taal volcano


House holds historic session at Batangas City’s Convention Center WEdnesday, 22 January 2020. (Photo courtesy GMA Network)

MANILA, Philippines — Representatives from all of Batangas’ six districts have filed a bill at the House of Representatives allocating P30 billion as supplemental budget for the immediate rehabilitation of areas devastated by the recent Taal Volcano eruption.

The Batangas representatives who filed the bill (HB 5998) Wednesday were Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu and Vilma Santos-Recto and Reps. Elenita Ermita-Buhain, Mario Marino, Lianda Bolilia and Theresa Collantes.

House Bill 5998 was filed before the bills and index office where a special session was attended by 204 of 300 total House members.

Presided over by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and supervised by Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, the House plenary also adopted two resolutions: 655 (immediate release of calamity funds) and 662 (direction for all agencies to help in the rehabilitation).

Congressman Marino, who is the chairman of the committee on government reorganization, delivered his sponsorship speech of HB 5989 creating the Department of Disaster Resilience, which earlier in the day was taken up and approved by the panel of Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab.

Sitting as chairman of the appropriations committee, Ungab voted to endorse a consolidated bill creating the DDR, the agency that would be in charge of the nation’s disaster risk preparedness, mitigation, management and response.

“The eruption of Taal Volcano requires us to act on this measure now,” he told his colleagues.

Meantime, Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, chair of the committee on disaster management, assured victims of the volcanic eruption not just in this province but also in Cavite that help is on the way.

“We are here for you. We empathize with you. We assure you that the government is with you, working with you and for you,” Gomez said adding that “Congress can use its oversight powers to plan for long-term rehabilitation.”

In what could be a historic session held at the Batangas City Convention Center, Speaker Cayetano acknowledged the need for government to fine-tune its efforts in extending all kinds of assistance to those in need, like the case of the Taal Volcano eruption.

“We assure you that if something happens to your place, the leadership of the House is willing to go there to do something,” the Taguig congressman told local officials whose areas were severely affected by the latest disaster.

A report by the Philippine Star further stated that leaders and allies of President Duterte at the House also expressed support yesterday for his proposal to allocate a P30-billion supplemental budget for purposes of helping victims of the Taal Volcano eruption recover from the disaster.

“Under the leadership of Speaker Cayetano, we assure that the House will give the highest priority to the request of President Duterte for Congress to fast-track the approval of the supplemental budget,” Romualdez said.

The Leyte congressman also assured the national government that “if need be, the House leadership is even willing to increase the amount of the supplemental budget to as much as P50 billion for the sake of our kababayans there.”

“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,” he said.

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