Aftermath of Typhoon "Rolly" in Catanduanes  in November 2020. (PNA file photo)

Bicol officials: 10k ayuda to help Bicolanos affected by disasters

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Local officials from the Bicol region on Friday expressed their support for the distribution of P10,000 cash aid which they said can help Bicolano families who have been affected by recent storms.

During the distribution of cash aid in Albay on July 30 as part of former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s Sampung Libong Pag-Asa initiative, local chief executives and legislators rallied behind the passage of the 10K Ayuda Bill.

Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., one of the proponents of the proposed measure, reiterated his commitment to lobbying for the bill.

Committed po tayo na matulak at mapasa itong 10K Ayuda Bill. At kahit di pa po napapasa, at least, napakita na po ng pamilyang Cayetano na kaya po itong gawin,” he said.

(We are committed to push for the 10K Ayuda Bill and secure its passage. And even if it is not yet passed, the Cayetano family showed us that it is possible.) 

Albay Board Member Philip Lee said the Sampung Libong Pag-asa initiative will help Bicolanos displaced by the string of tropical cyclones that ravaged the province last year. 

Marami po kaming displaced (residents). Itong Sampung Libong Pag-Asa, makakapagbigay po ito sa ‘min ng hope,” he said.

(We have a lot of displaced residents. This Sampung Libong Pag-Asa initiative will definitely give us hope.)

Daraga Mayor Victor Perete, Tiwi Mayor Jaime Villanueva, and Oas Mayor Domingo Escoto thanked the Cayetano family for sending aid to their respective localities, which were badly hit by tropical cyclones and Mayon Volcano’s unrest in recent years. 

Tabaco City Councilor Sheina Onrubia, representing Governor Al Bichara, called the initiative a “lasting legacy” of its proponents.

“You cannot live without hope. Mawala na raw ang lahat, ‘wag lang ang pag-asa (One can lose everything, but never lose hope.). Thank you for bringing hope to us,” she said.

In this week’s edition of the Sampung Libong Pag-Asa program, 400 beneficiaries from Camarines Sur, 150 beneficiaries from Albay and 33 Bicolanos based in Taguig and Pateros received P10,000 each from Cayetano and his wife Lani.

More than a hundred commenters from the event’s Facebook livestream also received cash aid on Friday. 

To date, a total of 7,693 beneficiaries across the country have already received cash aid through the initiative, which took off from the advocacy of Cayetano’s 10K Ayuda Bill.

Taguig Rep. Lani Cayetano, who hails from Tiwi, Albay, said distributing cash aid in the Bicol region is crucial because it is a hotspot for various natural disasters. 

Ang Bicol region, alam naman ito ng ating mga kababayan sa buong Pilipinas, ito po ang mga probinsya na palaging binibisita ng bagyo. Sa Albay, nararanasan ang volcanic eruption diyan,” she said.

(The Bicol region is known throughout the Philippines as a province that is always visited by storms. In Albay, they experience volcanic eruptions.)

Meanwhile, former Speaker Cayetano lamented the country’s failure to respond effectively to natural disasters.

Hindi stranger ang Pilipino sa disaster or calamity. Sobrang resilient natin. Sobrang lakas ng fighting spirit natin, na minsan, pauli-ulit nalang ang problema at parang walang solusyon,” he said.

(The Filipino is not a stranger to disasters or calamities. We’re very resilient. Our fighting spirit is very strong, so much so that our problems keep on repeating themselves. It’s as if we are not creating solutions.) 

He reiterated his call for the establishment of a Department of Disaster Resiliency, which would focus on disaster prevention, mitigation, recovery, and rehabilitation.

Kailangan natin ng isang department na walang ibang gagawin kundi i-prevent ang disaster, tapos yung relief work, at yung pinakaimportante na tingin ko mahina ang Pilipinas, pati ang gobyerno, rehabilitation,” he said. 

(We need a department that will do nothing else but focus on disaster prevention, relief work, and the most important of all, and the country and our government have been lacking regarding this, rehabilitation.)

Late last year, Bicol was hit by three major typhoons mere weeks apart, displacing tens of thousands of families and leaving behind billions of pesos in damage.

Typhoon Rolly, 2020’s strongest recorded typhoon, barreled through Bicol in early November, less than a week after Typhoon Quinta brought heavy rains and flooding across the region. 

The two storms damaged more than P7 billion worth of infrastructure and agriculture in the region, and left at least 25 Bicolanos dead. Typhoon Ulysses then pummeled Bicol in mid-November, leaving at least 5 people dead in its wake.

In the coming weeks, the former Speaker vowed to distribute P3,500 each to 10,000 sari-sari store owners in the Bicol Region as part of his Sari-Sari Store Community program.

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