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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Solons hike aid pledges to P49.2 million as House becomes hub for relief

The Office of Speaker Martin G. Romualdez has received some P49.2 million in cash pledges for its relief drive for families affected by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng (international name: Nalgae).

Romualdez announced this Monday even as Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City, home of the House of Representatives, was transformed into a hub for sorting and repacking relief goods.

On top of the P49.2 million, Romualdez, who represents Leyte’s 1st District, has also received pledges of assistance from the private sector, which committed to helping in the production of much-needed relief packs. Some of these items were already sent to typhoon victims in Cavite and Laguna.

The fund drive was led by Speaker Romualdez; his wife, House committee on accounts chairperson and Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez; and House committee on appropriations chairman and Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Zaldy Co.

House employees and officials also donated used clothes and other items that can be used by typhoon victims.

Paeng struck the country during a break in the sessions at the House, which meant most of the congressmen were at their respective districts.

Their presence at their districts has allowed for better coordination on the ground in connecting with the Speaker’s relief drive.

Meanwhile, the country’s two largest telecom companies are ramping up a nationwide rollout of free calls, charging and load assistance to communities affected by Tropical Storm Paeng.

PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) added more Libreng Tawag (free calls) and Libreng Charging (free charging) stations to serve the communication needs of communities affected by Typhoon Paeng.

“The Group has begun offering free calls and charging in Quezon, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao del Norte to provide communication as aid to those who need it most. PLDT and Smart also provided the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Offices (PDRRMOs) of Batangas, Aklan, Capiz, Southern Leyte, and Maguindanao del Norte with emergency load to support their coordination efforts,” Cathy Yang, first vice president and Group Head of Corporate Communications at PLDT and Smart said.

Globe, on the other hand, started crucial restoration work in areas hit by Paeng as several provinces across the country reeled from power outages, floods, landslides and widespread damage wrought by the tropical storm.

As of Monday, Globe has fully restored call, text, and data connectivity in all Metro Manila areas where service was affected by the storm. All services have also been fully restored in Laguna, Palawan, Masbate, and Western Samar.

Restoration efforts, meanwhile, continue in other Paeng-stricken provinces still experiencing power outages and mobility challenges due to impassable roads.

Areas nearing 100 percent completion include Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Palawan, Sorsogon, Bohol, Guimaras, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Siquijor and Southern Leyte.

Meanwhile, restoration work continues in heavily hit provinces including Cavite, Quezon, Marinduque, Romblon, Aklan, Antique and Capiz.

“Our ground crews are working through the long weekend to immediately restore services in areas hit by Paeng, as connectivity is crucial in response and recovery efforts,” said Yoly Crisanto, Globe Chief Sustainability and Corporate Communications Officer.

In other developments:

• The Archdiocese of Manila through its social action arm, Caritas Manila, has initially provided cash and in-kind assistance amounting to over P1 million to areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao affected by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng. Church-run Radio Veritas reported Monday that the archdiocese has so far provided cash and in-kind aid worth P1,709,000. Of the amount, P500,000 was given to the Archdiocese of Cotabato, which was badly hit by the storm. It also provided P200,000 to the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Antique for the towns of San Jose de Buenavista, Sibalom, Hamtic, Patnongon, Laua-an, Belison, Bugasong, San Remegio, Tibiao, Valderama and Tobias Fornier that were also hit by the typhoon.

• Save the Children Philippines deployed humanitarian response teams to conduct rapid assessment of affected areas in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Bicol, Eastern Samar, Panay Island, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Around 4.5 million people, of which 1.4 million are children, have been affected, based on initial reports. – With Macon Ramos-Araneta

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