House hears plight of Taal eruption victims

MANILA — In an unprecedented move, the House of Representatives on Wednesday held its first out-of-town plenary session at the Batangas City Convention Center to listen to the plight of the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House would listen to the immediate needs and concerns of those affected by the eruption, including barangay captains, mayors, and different representatives from evacuees.

“We are here to show Batangas, including Cavite and Laguna, that we love you as we love ourselves. Yes, there is a risk of being here, but you are facing that risk every single day,” Cayetano said.

“So, what is one day for your National Congress, the House of the People, to be here with you to listen and to hear so that we may legislate effectively,” he added.

He highlighted that this is the first time the chamber has held its session outside the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City.

Tulungan niyo po kami na magbunga nang husto yung (Please help us make this a productive) first session held outside the Batasang Pambansa and we want to go home having a clear vision of what needs to be done, not only in the area of response and relief but also in the area of rehabilitation,” he said.

Barangay Captain Jocelyn Bayanay of Alas-As, San Nicolas, Batangas appealed for livelihood and financial assistance for the residents of her village.

Hinihiling ko po sa inyo na matulungan ngayon ang aming 388 households, 1800 above na population. Ngayon po pinapadama ko sa inyo ang lahat ng aming mga pighati at naramdaman sa kasalukuyan (We are requesting you to help our 388 households or 1,800 population. We would relay to you our grievance and feelings that we are having now),” Bayanay said.

Hinihiling ko po sa aming kabuhayan, sana wag po ninyong alisin ang aming palaisdaan… wala na po kaming pansuporta sa aming lugar (We are requesting for help in our livelihood, and we hope that you would not take away our fishponds…we have nothing left to support us),” she added.

Agoncillo, Batangas mayor Daniel Reyes, meanwhile, noted that about 9,000 residents of his municipality are currently in evacuation centers.

“We beg you to help us rebuild a more resilient, fortified, and well-planned community,” Reyes said.

Karen Olvina, a resident of Agoncillo, narrated the damage wrought by the eruption to her town.

Napakasakit po na sa isang iglap, nagbago ang aming buhay. Marami po sa amin… maaaring wala ng bahay at kabuhayan na babalikan (It is unbearable that in a blink of an eye, our lives have changed. Many of us probably have no homes and livelihood to return to),” Olvina said.

Cayetano assured that the government is already working on the livelihood programs for Taal Volcano victims.

Kumikilos na ang national government (The national government is now moving). In fact, the Department of Agriculture, may programa na sa pagbili ng (has a program on the purchase of) livestock. Congress itself… is willing to help,” he said.

The House is expected to approve on second reading the bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience on Wednesday during its out-of-town session.  Filane Mikee Cervantes /PNA –