House willing to hike supplemental budget for Taal eruption to P50 billion 'if needed'

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is “willing” to nearly double the Palace-proposed P30-billion supplemental budget to fund relief and rehabilitation efforts following the Taal Volcano eruption in Batangas.

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez made the announcement on Tuesday, January 21, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to pass a P30-billion supplemental budget to serve as aid to the volcanic eruption victims in Batangas and neighboring provinces. 

“If need be, the House leadership is even willing to increase the amount of the supplemental budget to as much as P50 billion for the sake of our kababayans there,” Romualdez said.

"We are going to coordinate with the Palace to get the full details of the supplemental budget,” added the the Leyte 1st District congressman.

The previous Aquino administration set aside a dedicated P26.84 billion fund to help assist victims and rehabilitate affected areas in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. 

When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, about P31 billion in government funds had been used for rehabilitation efforts in Central Luzon.

The House is set to hold its plenary session on Wednesday, January 22, at the Batangas City Convention Center in a bid to directly “listen” to the evacuees and first responders there. 

This is despite the Alert Level 4 still being raised over the Taal Volcano, which means a "hazardous" eruption is "imminent" or may occur "within days to hours.”

Batangas, where the volcano is located, and its neighboring province Cavite are still under a state of calamity.

Thousands of residents from the two provinces remain in evacuation centers, while the cost of agricultural damage so far is at P3.06 billion. (READ: How to stay safe during volcanic ashfall)

House committee on rules donates P500,000

On Monday, January 20, ranking lawmakers who are part of the House committee on rules announced an initial  P500,000-donation for those affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.

Romualdez said their donation, which come from her own pockets, was meant to show the evacuees that the "spirit of bayanihan is very much alive." 

Senior Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla told Rappler that the P500,000 was pooled from the personal funds of several rules committee members, including Deputy Majority Leader Ria Fariñas, who represents Ilocos Norte 1st District, and Deputy Majority Leader Juan Miguel Arroyo of Pampanga’s 2nd District.

“We may give more,” said Remulla, who represents Cavite’s 7th District.

Remulla and Arroyo turned over the check to the following House rules committee members whose districts were affected by the eruption:

 

 

 

– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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