Recto seeks P 50-B fund for proposed Taal Commission
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Monday sought a P50-billion fund to help families and communities affected by eruption of Taal Volcano as he formally proposed the creation of the Taal Volcano Rehabilitation and Development Commission.
Recto, who hails from Batangas, said the immediate losses from the Jan. 12 volcanic eruption only foreshadows the economic and financial costs, including tourism losses, reconstruction and rehabilitation requirements, healthcare, and evacuation and relief operation costs.
The P50-billion fund that he proposed in a bill would be used to provide immediate relief to affected individuals and families, build resettlement centers, homesites, and townsites for displaced families, provide livelihood and employment opportunities, and construct or repair public infrastructure, he said.
The commission would have five members from the Cabinet, a vice chair and executive director, two representatives from nongovernmental organizations, the executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and the governors of Batangas and Cavite.
“Ultimately, this proposed measure seeks to hasten the recovery and sustain the economic development of communities affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano,” he said in his explanatory note to the bill.
In his privilege speech endorsing the bill, Recto said it was important to prepare early for the rehabilitation of areas affected by the eruption, even if Taal Volcano remains restive.
“I also believe, based on our history, that it is only through a chartered, one-stop-shop, government body that the rehabilitation of a devastated land can be successful,” he said.
He noted that there have been previous, less than successful efforts to rebuild calamity-stricken areas.
“If many of our calamity areas are dotted with the carcasses of failed, delayed and unneeded projects, it is because the approach in rebuilding has been scattered and sporadic, he said.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to ask Congress to expedite the release of at least P30 billion in supplemental funds for the relief and rehabilitation efforts for the victims of Taal Volcano’s unrest.
The President made the promise before evacuees temporarily staying in Santo Tomas City in Batangas on Monday afternoon.
“This [calamity] was not included in this year’s budgeting, so we might have a supplemental budget in Congress,”
“I will ask Congress to expedite it. P30 billion will cover everything, from the help to be given to you, your livestock, and the houses,” he said.
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