MANILA - The House leadership late Monday agreed unanimously to donate a portion of their salaries for relief operations in Batanes, where a string of powerful earthquakes flattened decades-old houses to the ground and left at least 9 dead over the weekend.
House Deputy Majority Leader and Pangasinan Rep. Christopher de Venecia manifested before the plenary about the "signature sheet" in which lawmakers can write the amount of their voluntary contribution that will be deducted from their salary.
The House is expected to raise at least P1.5 million based on minimum contribution of P5,000 per congressman, according to a statement from House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez's office.
“This is just the minimum amount pegged by the House resolution. The contribution may even reach P3 million up to P5 million as some congressmen have indicated willingness to donate P50,000 to P100,000 from their salary,” said the Leyte representative.
The plenary also called on the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and other relevant organizations to expedite humanitarian assistance and restore normalcy to the country's northernmost province.
Romualdez also asked the Legislative Security Bureau (LSB) to allocate a portion of South and North Wing Lobbies of Batasan Complex as a collection and storage area for donated goods from lawmakers and House employees.
The donated goods will be turned over to Batanes Rep. Ciriaco Gato, Jr. for distribution to appropriate agencies that are tasked to bring them to the quake hit-province, said Romualdez.
The public, he said, may also send their donation through Rep. Gato’s chief of staff, Atty. Rachel Derigay, who may be contacted through mobile number 09985548060.
Quake survivors urgently need sanitary napkins, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, hand towels, wet wipes, mosquito repellant, reusable eating utensils, generator sets for water pumping stations, and portable toilets.
Three strong tremors with magnitudes ranging between 3.2 and 5.9 toppled Batanes' treasured limestone houses and the belfry of a centuries-old parish, tore deep cracks in the road and forced the evacuation of a hospital on Saturday.
Authorities said some of the dead, including 2 babies under a year old, were crushed by the walls of their own homes.