By Ellson Quismorio
The House of Representatives is ready to respond to the people’s needs in connection with the ongoing eruptive activities of Taal Volcano, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement Sunday evening.
“On behalf of the House of Representatives, in partnership with the Duterte Administration, we are assuring our kababayans who are directly affected by this natural calamity that we are ready to provide our support and assistance,” he said.
“Together, let us pray for the safety and protection of our people especially those within the danger areas near the Taal Volcano,” added Cayetano, who represents Taguig-Pateros in the 300-member chamber.
Last November, a third of the House members chipped in donations to the relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas hit by the spate of major earthquakes in Mindanao the previous month.
Cayetano said the donations came directly from the congressmen’s salaries.
“As the PHILVOCS raised Alert Level 4 over the Taal Volcano, we thank the local governments and first responders especially in the areas near the Taal Volcano for taking immediate precautionary measures to ensure the safety and security of our constituents,” he said.
Cayetano said the occurrence of these unpredictable natural disasters make it more urgent for Congress to pass the measure creating the Department of Disaster Resilience which, once established, will be in charge of providing emergency response to natural disasters such earthquakes, typhoons, floods and volcanic eruptions.
“Meanwhile, let us continue to monitor the developments and coordinate with our respective local government units related to the eruption of the Taal Volcano. We appeal for national unity amid these challenging times and vigilance in the face of possible effects of the said volcanic activities,” he said.
In a related development, Speaker Cayetano announced late Sunday night the suspension of work at the House of Representatives Monday, January 13.
“The special meeting set by the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs to discuss the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers in Iraq and other countries and the case of OFW Jeanelyn Villavende is also postponed and will be reset to a later date,” the announcement from the Speaker’s office read.
“Engineering Department and Security Bureau will maintain a skeletal force [at the House],” it added.