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Davao City, Philippines

Solon bats for creation of Taal Commission

January 22, 2020 - Wednesday 10:01 AM by PNA

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MANILA -- Albay Rep. Joey Salceda on Tuesday filed a measure seeking to create the Taal Commission as the primary agency of the national government for relief and rehabilitation efforts toward the comprehensive reconstruction of Taal eruption-vulnerable areas.

Salceda filed House Bill 5977, or the proposed Taal Eruption Recovery Rehabilitation and Adaptation (TERRA) Act, which aims to develop a long-term socioeconomic reconstruction program for communities most directly impacted by Taal’s activity, embedding adaptation in infrastructure and social investments.

“The (TERRA) plan shall be based on the principle of building back better forward which should go beyond restoring the area to its former state or condition but instead use this opportunity to leapfrog area development given its proximity to Metro Manila--the seat of economic power," Salceda said in an aide-memoire.

The bill seeks an appropriation of PHP100 billion for the creation of the Taal Commission.

Under the bill, the proposed Taal Commission shall formulate plans, programs, and projects for the relief, rehabilitation, resettlement, and livelihood services as well as infrastructure development in the affected areas.

The commission shall be responsible for tapping the resources of the private sector to encourage its cooperation in implementing the Philippine Government’s reconstruction strategy.

It shall also raise and mobilize funds, especially grants and deeply concessional loans, to bankroll reconstruction.

The bill promotes the safe, sustainable, long-term development of what shall be referred to as the South of Manila Growth Corridor (SMGC) through the fast-tracking of the construction of strategic infrastructure, as well as the mapping of safe areas for industrial, commercial, and residential development.

“The commission shall endeavor to promote the SMGC and its environs as one investment and tourism destination. Towards this end, the commission shall establish an inter-provincial tourism development plan and a medium-term SMGC growth and investment strategy which employs the comparative advantages of SMGC and its surrounding provinces,” the bill read.

As for the adaptive social and landscape planning, the commission shall create an SMGC socio-environmental plan which shall incorporate urban-rural infrastructure linkages; land-value capture strategies; sustainable and accessible transport modalities to link workers and workplaces; infrastructure systems that can function as evacuation routes; and tourist and convention-friendly development, among others.

The House of Representatives will hold a plenary session in the Batangas City Convention Center on Wednesday.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano challenged members of the House to "come up with long-lasting and reliable solutions, programs and mechanisms" to respond to calamities and disasters.

Cayetano noted that the country needs to do better in the rehabilitation of a calamity-stricken province although it has improved its disaster response system over the past years.

"We want to come up with a strategic plan that will assign one department to be fully accountable. We have to learn from our mistakes," Cayetano said. (PNA)