By Ben Rosario
BATANGAS CITY – A proposed resolution proclaiming the House of Representatives’ commitment to the passage of a supplemental budget for victims of the Taal volcano eruption was expected to be adopted by congressmen in a historic regular session held at the Batangas City Convention Center on Wednesday.
Another legislative measure calls for the immediate release of funds for aid relief, resettlement, rehabilitation, livelihood, development and social programs and services to communities hit by the destructive eruption was filed by Batangas solons but was not in yesterday’s agenda.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano opened the first out-of-town regular session at 1:30 pm.
Holding a regular session outside the august halls of the Batasan is not prohibited as the House rules are silent as to the mandatory venue for regular sessions.
Cayetano admitted that today’s session is unprecedented not only due to the choice of venue but also to the fact that House members have thrown caution to the wind by being at the province that could be at the center of another volcanic eruption.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has warned of another major Taal volcano eruption as the agency refused to lower the Alert Level 4 warning it issued after last week’s eruption.
HR 662 authored by House officials led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is the lone topic in the order of business although 44 bills of local application were listed for third reading approval.
Six bills were listed in the business for the day, all of which are not expected to be tackled.
HR 662 expresses the Lower House commitment to work with concerned government agencies “to pass the proposed supplemental budget to expedite effective and responsive assistance to” people affected by the Taal eruption.
Aside from Cayetano, other authors of HR 622 are Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (Lakas-CMD, Leyte); Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante (NUP, Manila); Deputy Speakers Dan Fernandez (NP, Laguna) and Paolo Duterte (HNP, Davao City) and Rep. Elpidio Barzaga (NUP, Cavite)
Also listed as co-authors were Deputy Speakers Vilma Santos-Recto and Raneo AB and Reps. Elenita Ermita-Buhain, Ma. Theresa Collantes and Mario Vittorio Marino, all of Batangas.
The authors noted that aside from the detrimental effects on people, economic losses have already reached P7.63 billion based according to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) while the agriculture department in CALABARZON placed the damage to agricultural at P3.06 billion.
They pointed out that calamity funds being released by localities are not enough to address financial needs for rehabilitation and recovery operations for the affected areas.
Cayetano and his colleagues vowed to support calls by President Duterte for the allocation of supplemental budget to swiftly carry out the rebuilding of Taal devastated areas especially in Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna.