Solon calls for special session to authorize more disaster funds

A leader of the House of Representatives on Monday said a special session is needed to authorize the additional funding for disaster response following the eruption of the Taal Volcano.

Deputy Speaker Michael Romero said the PHP16 billion in the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund may not be enough until December, noting that other sources of funding could be tapped such as the calamity funds of local government units and the USD500 million worth of disaster resilience funds from World Bank.

I will confer with other House leaders on prioritizing the Department of Disaster Resilience bills. I believe the Taal Volcano eruption is enough reason for Congress to convene in special session this week to tackle the disaster resilience bills and perhaps authorize additional funding for disaster response measures, Romero said.

Many of the people affected in the Mindanao earthquakes and by the typhoons that struck Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Mindoro, and Western Visayas have yet to rebuild their homes," he added.

Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin called on Congress to hasten the passage of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) bill, noting that certification as urgent may be necessary.

We need the bill. We would ask President Duterte to certify as urgent. Several disasters have befallen our country in the past weeks and months, but the Department of Disaster Resilience bill has hardly moved, Garbin said.

Taal Volcano being so close to Metro Manila is, I believe, the push factor to get the DDR bill moving fast. I hope the Senators feel the same way about the urgency of the DDR bill. Congressional action on the DDR bill is imperative now, not later, he added.

Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera, meanwhile, appealed to all the airlines operating at all the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals to abide by the current regulations on air passengers' rights now that the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has suspended all arrival and departure flights.

There will be flight cancellations and delays. All travelers now at NAIA and at other airports must be promptly attended to with the utmost courtesy, Herrera said.

Travelers going to NAIA from various airports nationwide should expect delays. Ground crews of the airlines must courteously and properly attend to them all, she added.

Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun said permanent and absolute no-build zones must be established immediately as an adaptation to climate and disaster hazards, as well as to protect ancestral lands, farms, and nature preserves and habitats on land and out at sea.

The ongoing phreatic explosions at Taal Volcano are a stark and grim reminder of the urgent need for national land and water use law with strong provisions on permanent and absolute no-build zones and with harsh penalties on any local government or government office that violates, Fortun said.

A national land and water use law would also force coastal towns and cities to adapt to sea-level rise and sinking of their lands, he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency