The Daily Tribune - 13 senators brave rains, call for bigger budget for calamity victims

A total of 13 senators defied heavy rains and massive flooding just to attend Wednesday session and come up with no non-sense suggestions on how to help victims of calamities particularly typhoons.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile spearheaded the 13 senators, saying the inclement weather spawned by southwest monsoon should not hamper their desire to serve the people. ”It is the best time to show to the people that as their elected leaders, we must work amid adversary,” Enrile said when asked why Senate did not suspend session like what the House of Representative did on Wednesday.

Aside from Enrile, other senators present include Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada and senators Gregorio Honasan II, Loren Legarda, Joker Arroyo, Franklin Drilon, Antonio Trillanes IV, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Serge Osmeña III.

In his opening prayer, Enrile asked for divine enlightenment that would guide every Filipino people to be responsible citizens by protecting environment and stop contributing to the worsening garbage problem at the Manila Bay.

Last week, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) collected 48 trucks loads of garbage dumped by giant waves from Manila Bay into Roxas Boulevard in Manila.
In media interview, Enrile suggested the relocation of thousands of informal settlers who are now taking refuge in various evacuation sites in Metro Manila after massive flooding and waves damaged their houses along coastal, waterways and river banks.

Enrile proposed to convert the 750-hectare Philcomsat  property in Pinugay in Tanay, Rizal as relocation site for the people who were left homeless by series of weather disturbances for the last two weeks.

Enrile said housing czar Vice President Jejomar Binay is now working with the Philcomsat officials on the possibility of converting the property into a relocation site.
Legarda supported the proposal of the 88-year-old Enrile, reiterating her call to build better communities that would be resilient to natural hazards. “The kind of weather we have experienced in the past days and weeks is part of the ‘new norm.’ This is climate change. And while we experience weather disturbances that bring stronger winds and heavier rains, we have to strengthen our efforts in preparing our communities. We need to recover and rebuild our lives with this in mind. We need to build back better, by further reducing people’s vulnerability, by further building our resilience to floods,” Legarda stressed.

Legarda, meanwhile, proposed to increase from P1 billion to P10 billion the budget to be allotted for People’s Survival Fund every year to help more victims of natural disasters.

Enrile and Sotto agreed with Legarda’s proposal with the majority leader suggesting that the P3-billion budget to be allotted for contraceptives should instead be transferred to people’s survival fund. Sotto is against passage of Reproductive Health bill.

Sen. Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan called for ‘price hike holiday’ as Metro Manila and parts of Luzon struggle to get back on their feet from the effect of typhoon Gener and southwest monsoons that brought heavy rains for last two weeks.

”I appealed on oil companies and dealers of food, vegetables, and basic commodities to “go easy” on price hike,” Pangilinan said.