DISASTER AID. Members of the House of Representatives have donated and pledged a total of PHP35 million to assist the victims of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng. Speaker Martin Romualdez says on Sunday (Oct. 30, 2022) the amount will fund a relief drive for the residents of affected areas. (File photo)

MANILA – The House of Representatives has pledged PHP35 million in assistance to victims of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng.

Speaker Martin Romualdez said in a statement on Sunday House members led by Ako Bicol party-list Representative and House appropriations committee chair Zaldy Co generated a total of PHP35 million worth of donations and pledges as of 12:45 a.m. to fund a relief drive.

He said he has been linking up with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) as well as the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD), Department of National Defense (DND), and other departments and agencies to ensure a well-coordinated relief drive for the typhoon victims.

“During the darkest hours, the House of the People in coordination and partnership with the Marcos administration is always here to assist and help Filipinos in their time of need. We will support all the national government initiatives in pursuing relief and recovery efforts in areas affected by typhoon Paeng,” Romualdez said.

He said he has also coordinated with the Departments of Health (DOH), Education (DepEd), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Trade and Industry (DTI), Energy (DOE), Transportation (DOTr), and Information and Communications Technology (DICT) among others, to get a clearer picture of the storm's impact on Filipinos.

He assured that the House of Representatives would be responsive to the needs of the concerned government agencies in dealing with the calamity through finalizing the proposed 2023 national budget.

Romualdez said he and his wife, Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, chairperson of the House Committee on Accounts, responded to the requests of fellow lawmakers for financial and food assistance for their constituents.

Meanwhile, Tingog party-list Rep. Jude Acidre has readied a relief mission to Cotabato, Eastern Visayas, and other areas affected by Paeng, according to the Speaker.

“Sa tulong ng mga kasama nating mambabatas sa House of Representatives, magsasagawa ang Office of the Speaker ng relief drive at operations para sa mga komunidad na nasalanta ng Bagyong Paeng. Maglalaan tayo ng pondo para simulan ang pagbili ng mga kakailanganing relief goods tulad ng bottled waters, canned goods, bigas at iba pang basic necessities na ipapadala sa mga apektadong komunidad (Through the help of our fellow lawmakers at the House of Representatives, the Office of the Speaker will conduct a relief drive and relief operations for the communities affected by the Severe Tropical Storm Paeng. We will allocate funds to start the purchase of the needed relief goods like bottled water, canned goods, rice, and other basic necessities that will be delivered to the affected communities),” Romualdez said.

He also called on the private sector to participate and help in the relief drive.

House Ways and Means chairperson, Rep. Joey Salceda, meanwhile, said the Philippines can push for acknowledgment and compensation for “loss and damage”, arguing that the country, being most at risk from climate change, has a "moral ascendancy" to fight for the principle of loss and damage.

He said loss and damage, in international climate law, refers to the permanent loss or irreparable damage caused by climate change, including extreme weather events like typhoons, as well as slow-onset events such as sea-level rise.

Salceda said apart from demanding more support for the country’s clean energy transition, countries like the Philippines should also ask for more direct compensation mechanisms and funds that can be activated as soon as climate-related disasters take place.

“If the world won’t achieve consensus on loss and damage, we at least need a global 'quick response fund' similar to our Calamity Fund but funded by countries according to their pollution contributions, and accessed by countries as soon as climate-related disasters affect them," he said.

He said the fund can be administered by a committee where both developed and developing countries are represented.

“Mitigation and adaptation measures are not enough. They’re good, but not enough. And coming from a disaster like Paeng, we have the moral duty and moral ascendancy to make demands on the world’s biggest polluters," Salceda said. (PNA)