Senate oks Yolanda day bill

November 06, 2018
Small crosses
UNFORGETTABLE DISASTER. A volunteer worker fixes the lines of thousands of small crosses at the Yolanda Victims Memorial Circle in Tacloban City in preparation for the 5th Anniversary of the deadly super typhoon Yolanda that devastated Leyte on November 8, 2013 killing more than 6,500 people. Photo by Ver Noveno

LEYTE Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez yesterday lauded the Senate for passing on third and final reading a proposed law declaring November 8 of every year as a special non-working holiday in Eastern Visayas in honor of the extraordinary courage of the unsung heroes of super typhoon Yolanda.

Romualdez thanked her Senate counterparts, especially Sen. Sonny Angara, the principal author of the Senate version and chairman of the Senate committee on local government, for the solid support that they extended to her House Bill (HB) No. 6591 or the Typhoon Yolanda Resiliency Day in Eastern Visayas.

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank all the senators for their malasakit (compassion), kindness and generous support in ensuring the passage of the Yolanda Commemoration Day,” said Romualdez, stressing the measure would show the continued “malasakit” to the victims of super typhoon Yolanda tragedy that happened five years ago.

“Thank you again Sen. Sonny for the sheer faith, diligence and hard work,” said Romualdez, wife of Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) President Martin Romualdez who was a former House Independent Bloc leader and three-term Leyte congressman, as the nation commemorates this Thursday the 5th year Yolanda anniversary.

Last December, Romualdez’s measure, which substituted HB No. 4383 or originally her “Yolanda Commemoration Day” under Committee Report No. 450, was approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives.

With an overwhelming 17 votes last October, the Senate approved Angara’s Senate Bill (SB) No. 6591 on third and final reading declaring November 8 as a non-working holiday in Eastern Samar.

Angara joined Romualdez in declaring that “it would be fitting if this commemoration is institutionalized through a law.”

“It is very important that we, as a country, honor the memory of the dead and as well as the selflessness of those who worked tirelessly and contributed resources to help Eastern Visayas. Those who perished are not statistics and those who worked in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts are true heroes who should never be forgotten,” said Angara.

“We also carry a duty to remember this part of our history that killed, injured and displaced thousands of Filipinos. This is so that we will never forget how far we have come from the chaos and hardship of that fateful day due to Filipino resilience and the spirit of bayanihan,” Angara added.

The senator, who was one of the very first to go to the area five years ago to lend help, stressed that such “commemoration day” would allow us to continually reflect on improving our infrastructure and disaster response capability.

“Hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged, thousands of families displaced by Yolanda.  Many of these families are, to this day, still trying to find suitable homes. The typhoon also left a catastrophic impact in the local economy and livelihood of the region. The work goes on,” Angara added.

Tacloban City and the provinces of Leyte, Biliran, Southern Leyte, Northern Samar, Western Samar, and Eastern Samar have been observing an annual commemoration of Typhoon Yolanda since 2014 through a local executive order.

If signed into law, there shall be no classes and work in Tacloban City and the provinces of Leyte, Biliran, Southern Leyte, Northern Samar, Western Samar, and Eastern Samar on November 8 of every year to remember the victims of the disaster and to honor those who worked in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts.