Rep. Duterte wants bills on free freight services for relief ops prioritized
MANILA, Philippines — Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte has urged his colleagues in the House to prioritize bills that will mandate the provision of free freight services for the delivery of relief goods to areas hit by calamities.
In a statement on Friday, Duterte said that such bills would ensure that the country will have a “streamlined relief delivery system” that would be efficient and quick.
Such a proposal is contained in House Bill (HB) No. 4809 filed by Duterte, Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Edvic Yap, and former ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Jeffrey Soriano as early as September 2022.
“The Philippines being an archipelago means that we have to rely on freight companies and other logistics carriers to collect and deliver relief goods at the soonest possible time to calamity-hit areas,” Duterte said.
“Providing free freight services to deliver these goods will contribute to setting up a mechanism that would ensure that the government can quickly respond to the needs of disaster-hit communities,” he added.
Duterte reminded lawmakers that the country is often hit by strong typhoons as well as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes due to its position in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Last November 17, southern parts of Mindanao felt a strong earthquake after a Magnitude 6.8 tremor struck waters off Sarangani Island.
Then, just days after the quake, several towns in Visayas and Mindanao were affected by severe flooding due to intense rains.
Under HB No. 4809, the logistics cluster of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) will be tasked to coordinate with the Philippine Postal Corporation, freight companies, and other logistics firms in providing free freight services to registered relief organizations.
Freight service would be free if the President or the local government unit (LGU) declared a state of calamity at the destination of the relief goods. For areas that freight service providers cannot access, the relief goods or donated aid would be delivered to the nearest accessible LGU and shall be consigned to the concerned local chief executive.
Just hours before the Sarangani earthquake, another lawmaker Deputy Speaker Camille Villar asked for the prioritization of a similar bill that would require free freight services during calamities as a way of ensuring the quick transport of emergency donated goods.
Villar also filed a similar bill — House Bill No. 9354, or the proposed Free Transportation of Relief Goods Act, which will mandate agencies involved in disaster-relief operations like the OCD and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the Department of Transportation (DOTr), to coordinate with freight companies in providing free services.