The House of Representatives has started raising funds for victims of the earthquakes that hit Mindanao last month.
Speaker Alan Peter “Compañero” Cayetano bared the fund raising endeavor of the House during the Congressional Spouses Foundation, Inc. (CSFI) Giant Christmas Tree 2019 Launch held at the House Main Lobby on Monday afternoon. The Speaker, together with his wife Rep. Maria Laarni Cayetano (2nd District, Taguig City-Pateros), Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante led the lighting of the giant Christmas tree to mark the start of the House preparation for Christmas.
The Speaker said that although everyone is looking forward to Christmas already, he asked that Congress as a whole must do extra sacrifices to help the victims of the earthquakes that hit Mindanao last October. “Sobra iyong nawala, hindi lang kagamitan, hindi lang bahay, pero buhay, sa nangyari sa Mindanao. So maybe I can ask that Congress as a whole do extra sacrifices na makatulong tayo,” he said.
The Speaker said Deputy Speaker Duterte made the rounds in the House last Monday morning to seek help for the victims of the Mindanao earthquakes. “Si Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte umikot kaninang umaga. So despite the fact na mayroong siyang activity sa sariling office ngayong lunch, inuna niya talaga iyong mga naapektuhan ng lindol,” he said.
The Speaker added that Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte also initiated texting his colleagues, and so far, about 90 House Members responded that they will donate in different amounts, which will be sourced from their respective salaries.
Meanwhile last Sunday, Speaker Cayetano said, in behalf of the 18th Congress, the staff of the Office of the Speaker, with Senator Francis Tolentino and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) representatives, made the rounds to distribute food packs to the victims of earthquakes.
Moreover, the Speaker said that Rep. Lucy Torres–Gomez, Chairperson of the Committee on Disaster Management, is preparing a Congress Rehabilitation Plan so the House can help the rehabilitation of areas in Mindanao that were devastated by the earthquakes. “Nag-assess on the ground at ang initial recommendation ni Congresswoman Lucy Torres Gomez ay mag concentrate kami sa rehabilitation. Dahil mayroon tayong first responders, may LGUs tayo, nakatutok sila sa primary needs ngayon sa relief efforts, sabi niya baka mas maggiging effective iyong rehab,” he said.
But for the long-term, the Speaker believes the most important is disaster management and the creation of an Emergency Response Department. “Kasi iba talaga na may isang departamento na walang ibang ginagawa kung hindi naka focus sa risk management or risk reduction and disaster management and rehab. We saw this already in the West, sa US at Europe. Pag tinignan mo iyong mga ahensya may mga specific na ahensya iyan lalo na sa rehabilitation.”
In addition, the Speaker urged everyone to buy the Christmas tree ornaments; the proceeds will be given to utility workers of the House including the janitors, waiters and security personnel.