By Charissa Luci-Atienza
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and his wife Tingog Sinirangan partylist Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez want to declare November 8 of every year a special non-working holiday in the Eastern Visayas region to “honor the memory of all those who died” when supertyphoon Yolanda made landfall on that day in 2013.
The Romualdezes filed House Bill 3300, seeking the declaration of November 8, each year, as “Yolanda Commemoration Day,” a special non-working holiday, in Tacloban City, and the provinces of Leyte, Biliran, Southern Leyte, Northern Samar, Western Samar and Eastern Samar.
“This bill is intended to be a fitting tribute to the memory of all who died in the disaster and to salute the selflessness of all volunteers and organizations who took part and contributed in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts of the communities affected by the typhoon,” they said.
In the previous 17th Congress, the House of Representatives approved the bill on third and final reading. It was principally authored by the now Tingog Sinirangan solon when she was still Leyte’s first district representative.
The Romualdezes noted that for the last three years, the city of Tacloban and the provinces of Leyte, Biliran, Southern Leyte, Northern Samar, Western and Eastern Samar have been observing the annual commemoration of Yolanda devastation through a local executive order.
On November 8, 2013, Super typhoon Yolanda heavily battered Eastern Visayas, killing 5, 982 people, and affecting 2.6 million families.
“The pain caused by Yolanda is somewhat negated by the phenomenal opportunity to be able to build back better, given the overwhelming support that comes our way in many forms–humanitarian aid for immediate disaster relief , funding assistance for rehabilitation and recovery projects, and even technical assistance willing to be shared by experts on understanding better the disaster that hit us and preventing another one from hitting us in the future,” the Romualdezes said.
Supertyphoon Yolanda was one of the strongest storms ever recorded in world history, with wind speeds of more than 300 kph, and storm surges over four meters.
“The storm surge precipitated by the typhoon claimed thousands of lives and wrought massive destruction to private and public properties. An estimated 12.2 million people (2.6 million families) were reported to have been affected by the disaster, with more than 90 percent coming from the Visayas Region,” they said.
They said that, as of December 12, 2013, there were 5,982 reported fatalities, more than 80 percent of whom were from the three Leyte towns of Palo, Tacloban and Tanauan.
Moreover, 27,022 people were reported injured, with 1,799 persons still missing, they added.
“A total of 1,192,091 houses were reported damaged, of which 593,785 are reported to have incurred more than 50 percent damage, leaving tens of thousands of internally displaced individuals,” they said.
Romualdezes said the total damage and property loss from Typhoon Yolanda was initially estimated at P571.1 billion (equivalent to $12.9 billion).
“The impact of the strongest typhoon in recorded history was most heavily felt by the economic and social sectors, which together sustained nearly 93 percent of the total damage and loss,” they said.