House to rush bills vs calamitiesBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The leadership of the House of Representatives has vowed to expedite the passage of key measures seeking better institutional response during calamities after the country experienced massive flooding triggered by relentless monsoon rains.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., whose political bailiwick of Quezon City was badly hit by floods, vowed to take action on more than a dozen of such bills still pending at the committee level.
“I will have the committees consolidate the bills to fast-track their approval,” he told the Inquirer in a text message.
One bill, filed earlier this year by Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, calls for a “system of effective fund administration of donations and humanitarian aid” during calamities. The idea is to allow “relief agencies and humanitarian organizations (to) efficiently account for funds, cash donations or aid intended for legitimate victims or communities.”
“In effect, it sets the procedures and protocols to be taken into account in order to fill the gaps of chronic and systemic failure to a desired smooth, timely and responsive movement of relief food supplies, goods and aid to affected victims or population in a disaster site or area,” he said in House Bill No. 5706’s explanatory note.
Another bill bans the construction of residential, commercial or any other habitable structures along areas prone to floods and landslides. Penalty is set at a minimum of six months to a year in jail.
House Bill No. 460 requires the inclusion of lessons on disaster awareness and mitigation in the elementary and high school curricula.
“Such curricula shall include, among others, a course on natural and man-made disasters in order to instill disaster awareness and promote active participation among the youth, students and society as a whole in disaster preparedness for the benefit of the nation,” Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara said of his bill.
A bill by Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño mandates “telecommunications service providers to send free mobile alerts in the event of natural and man-made disasters and calamities.”
“Modern notification systems, such as mobile phone alerts, can be used to augment the existing and inefficient system. The ubiquity of mobile phones should be maximized to send out emergency alerts, at no cost to consumers,” he said.
San Juan Rep. Jose Victor Ejercito has a bill seeking a “solidarity fund of local government units for disaster response and recovery.” Another Ejercito measure would benefit workers assigned in disaster areas by providing them with proper protective equipment.