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HOUSE PROPOSAL FROM ROMUALDEZES

‘Yolanda Day’ bill tribute to Filipino resilience

/ 05:42 AM November 08, 2019

A boy sits next to wooden crosses during a memorial ceremony marking the first anniversary of Super Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, at a mass grave in the village of Vasper, Tacloban City, central Philippines on November 8, 2014. Survivors of the strongest typhoon ever to hit land descended on mass graves November 8, to mark one year since the storm devastated the central Philippines and condemned millions to deeper poverty. Haiyan claimed more than 7,350 lives as it swept in off the Pacific Ocean, with its record winds and once-in-a-generation storm surges flattening entire towns. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo by TED ALJIBE / AFP)

Approving the bill declaring Nov. 8 “Yolanda Commemoration Day” in Eastern Visayas would be a fitting tribute to the resilience of Filipinos, a husband-and-wife pair of lawmakers said on Thursday.

This year marks the sixth anniversary of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan), which pummeled central Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013, and left 6,300 dead, 1,061 missing and 29,000 injured, most of them in Eastern Visayas.

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Yolanda, one of the world’s strongest typhoons that made landfall, displaced 920,000 people.

In a statement, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, the House majority leader,  and Tingog  Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez appealed to the Senate leadership for the passage of the bill.

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“This bill is intended to be 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 in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts of the communities affected by the typhoon,” they said.

The couple cited the resilience of the people from Eastern Visayas, especially Tacloban City, who, they said, had been able to recover from the tragedy.

‘Build back better’

“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,” the Romualdezes said.

These include humanitarian aid for immediate disaster relief, funding assistance for rehabilitation and recovery projects, and technical assistance shared by experts on understanding better the disaster that hit the region.

“[The interventions are also meant to help] prevent another one from hitting us in the future,” the bill’s sponsors said.

Under the bill, Nov. 8 will be declared a special nonworking holiday in Tacloban and the provinces of Leyte, Biliran, Southern Leyte, Northern Samar, Samar and Eastern Samar, supposedly to allow residents to commemorate the tragedy.

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Over the past years, residents in these areas have been commemorating Yolanda’s devastation but only through local executive orders.

“Despite so much progress that has been achieved in building back our communities even better, we are still mourning for those who perished,” the Romualdezes said.

Earlier, they jointly filed House Bill No. 4960 or the “Yolanda Commemoration Day” bill, which was passed on third reading in the House on Monday.

A total of 213 House members voted to approve the measure, replacing HB 3300, which was passed in the 17th Congress but failed to be enacted into law due to time constraints as it was being deliberated in the Senate. —MELVIN GASCON

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TAGS: Leyte, Philippine disasters, Samar, Tacloban, Typhoon Yolanda
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