House makes legislative history with Batangas session

Published January 21, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives will make congressional history on Wednesday when it holds the first-ever out-of-town regular session in Batangas, which faces the extreme threat of another devastating eruption of Taal, one of the smallest volcanos in the world.

House of the Representatives (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN / FILE PHOTO)
House of the Representatives (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN / FILE PHOTO)

Led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, the majority of the Lower House membership are expected to troop to the Batangas City Convention Center to hold a regular session that is expected to center on legislative measures aimed at addressing urgent rehabilitation and relief efforts in areas ravaged by Taal’s volcanic activity last week.

The session will be conducted in Batangas, notwithstanding the raising of Alert Level 4 by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) in Batangas and its adjoining provinces.

Congressmen unanimously agreed to visit Batangas as they approved a motion by Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez to that effect.

The House will convene itself into a Committee of the Whole in Batangas in order to hear local leaders and officials of various government agencies report on the situation.

“We hope to determine firsthand what is happening in Taal-ravaged areas and decide swiftly what urgent legislative action to take to help those who have been displaced and severely affected by the eruption,” said Deputy Speaker and 1Pacman party-list Rep. Michael Romero.

In his opening speech at the resumption of regular sessions on Monday, Cayetano challenged his House colleagues to come up with long-lasting and reliable solutions, programs, and mechanisms to respond to calamities and disasters and “not just deal with the on-going relief operations.”

“It is time for us to act. But it is also time for us to listen,” Cayetano said.

Earlier, the House official directed the House committee on disaster management chaired by Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez to take the lead in drawing up legislative programs aimed at fast-tracking rehabilitation and recovery efforts in areas stricken by the Taal eruption.

“We want to come up with a strategic plan that will assign one department to be fully accountable. We have to learn from our mistakes,” Cayetano said.

Meanwhile, Cayetano said the House will await the proposal of the Department of Budget Management on the request of President Rodrigo Duterte for at least P30 billion in fresh funds to augment the budget for disaster relief and rehabilitation programs.

“We are coordinating with the concerned agencies and consulting with the local government officials in the affected towns and provinces. The supplemental budget can help alleviate the conditions of our kababayan (countrymen) and enable them to recover from their economic losses,” he said.