MANILA — The House of Representatives reported Thursday it already raised almost P7 million in donations, among them salary pledges from lawmakers, in a fund drive led by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco for the benefit of the victims of twin typhoons Quinta and Rolly that ravaged Luzon in the past week.
Velasco said donations were voluntary and lawmakers were welcome to contribute any amount "that will help in the rescue, recovery and rehabilitation efforts" in areas battered by the weather disturbances.
"The devastation caused by the two successive typhoons demands that each of us must help in every way we can to provide some relief and comfort to our countrymen who continue to endure these sufferings as the nation battles with COVID-19," Velasco said.
Several lawmakers pledged their full November salary.
Velasco launched the initiative on Monday and, as of Thursday, the chamber already raised almost P7 million in funds from its members, according to the House Secretariat.
Meanwhile, House Secretary General Jocelia Bighani Sipin said besides cash, Velasco also encouraged lawmakers to donate non-perishable items that will be sent to hardest-hit communities in the Bicol region.
"We are setting up donation boxes and all departments in Congress are encouraged to drop what they can to help the typhoon victims," Sipin said.
However, lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc urged their colleagues to instead defund the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and realign its almost P20 billion in budget to disaster funds.
"Naninidigan ang Kabataan party-list na sa halip na sayangin ng gobyerno ang pera ng bayan sa NTF-ELCAC ay marapat lang na ilagak na ang pondo nito sa edukasyon at pagbibigay ng kagyat na ayuda sa mga nasalanta ng bagyong Rolly," its representative, Sarah Elago, said.
"Malaki ang maitutulong sa mga mahihirap kapag tuluyan ng tinangggalan ng pondo ang NTF-ELCAC at gamitin ito para sa mga pangangailangan ng mga tinamaan ng bagyo at mga nawalan ng trabaho," said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.
At least 19 people were killed in Bicol due to super typhoon Rolly's rampage, according to the report of Office of Civil Defense-Region 5 on Tuesday.
The super typhoon also left some P5.8 billion in infrastructure damage in Bicol region, the Department of Public Works and Highways said Thursday.
—Reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News