House panel approves bill for Yolanda Commemoration Day

MANILA-- The House Committee on Revision of Laws on Tuesday approved the proposed bill declaring November 8 of every year as a special non-working public holiday in Eastern Visayas to honor those killed by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 and to recognize the unselfishness of volunteers who helped the victims.

Headed by Pangasinan Rep. Marilyn L. Primicias-Agabas, the panel unanimously approved House Bill No. 4383 filed by Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez.

After the approval, Romualdez expressed her deep gratitude to her fellow lawmakers for their support, saying the proposed bill, which would be known as the Yolanda Commemoration Day, not only honors the dead but also pays tribute to the resilience of the Filipino people in overcoming adversities.

I thank my colleagues for their overwhelming support for my proposal, the vice chairperson of the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization said.

Under her proposal, the holiday covers the highly urbanized City of Tacloban and the provinces of Leyte, Biliran, Southern Leyte, Northern Samar, Western Samar, and Ormoc City in Leyte.

Romualdez told the committee that the bill is 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 to the recovery and rehabilitation efforts of the communities affected by the typhoon.

She also cited the resilience of the people from Region 8, especially from Tacloban City, who were able to recover from the tragedy.

Finally, when November comes, we celebrate -- not the tragedy -- but the strength and resilience of our people, of our phenomenal capacity to survive that could prove to be an inspiration to our fellow Filipinos, many of which are now in the midst of adversities caused by disasters and conflict, Romualdez said.

Romualdez, a registered nurse and Miss Philippines-International 1996, is the wife of former Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez who is president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats of Leyte.

Super typhoon Yolanda, one of the strongest typhoons to ever hit land, affected 1.5 million families, of whom 918,261 were outright displaced.

Official figures released by the former administration pegged the number of deaths at 6,300 deaths although several experts believed that the figure is much higher.

Meanwhile, 1,061 were listed as missing and 28,689 were injured.

In the meantime, Romualdez reiterated her steadfast commitment in making permanent homes, better job opportunities and sustainable livelihood for the survivors of Yolanda.

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 for us to understand better the disaster that hit us and preventing another one from hitting us in the future, Romuladez said.

Among the lawmakers present during the hearing included Abang Lingkod Partylist Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano, ABS Partylist Rep. Eugene de Vera, Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza, Yacap Partylist Rep. Benhur Lopez Jr., An Waray Partylist Rep. Victoria Isabel Noel, Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter Wee Palma II, Pasig City Rep. Richard Eusebio among others.

Source: Philippine News Agency