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Floods show Congress should focus on increasing calamity fund, not passing RH bill – Golez

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Residents wade through floodwaters to return to their submerged houses in Marikina City Metro Manila August 8, 2012. Emergency workers and troops rushed food, water and clothes to nearly 850,000 people displaced and marooned from deadly floods spawned by 11 straight days of southwest monsoon rains that soaked the Philippine capital and nearby provinces. About 60 percent of Manila, a sprawling metropolis of about 12 million people, remained inundated on Wednesday, Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster agency said. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Aug 8 (Mabuhay) – The calamity that struck Metro Manila and nearby provinces in Luzon shows that Congress should focus on beefing up the calamity fund, and not on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, a veteran lawmaker said Wednesday.

Paranaque Representative Roilo Golez said he would block moves to resume plenary deliberations of the RH bill, which is now about to enter the period of amendments after majority of the members of the House of Representative voted to terminate the debates on the measure.

“I urge Congress to suspend deliberations on the RH bill until the end of August so we can focus on the needed Supplemental Calamity Fund and the vital General Appropriations bill,” Golez said in a text message.

“I will stand on the floor and oppose any move to resume plenary deliberations on the RH bill or start the period of amendments until we have finished the more pressing calamity and economic development issues,” he added.

In a separate statement, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said the enactment of an RH law will address problems spawned by calamities and ecological damage.

“No amount of supplemental fund will adequately address calamities of the population problem remains unresolved. A huge population growth rate exacerbates calamities,” he said.

According to him, an “inordinately huge population growth rate makes difficult and expensive risk management during calamities, contributes to the destruction of the environment, creates an imbalance in the ecosystems, and hinders the efficacy of climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

“The current flooding of Metro Manila and many provinces shows the hardship and expense of rescue and relief operations because of the multitude affected by the calamity,” he added.

Lagman said the disasters brought by typhoons Ondoy and Sendong showed the durect link between a high population growth rate and climate change.

“As population expands, people reside precariously along riverbanks, invade forestlands for habitation and cut trees for livelihood, and clog waterways with their garbage, which all compound the calamity and deter efficient risk management,” he said.

According to the Albay lawmaker, the problem of solid waste management is aggravated in populous areas as shown when Manila Bay recently inundated tons of solid wastes along Roxas Boulevard.

“The negative impact of an uncontrolled huge population growth rate on the environment will continually make risk management nightmarish and perpetuate similar tragedies to happen,” Lagman said.

Golez did not elaborate on the supplemental budget when asked how much is needed. The House committee on appropriations is currently deliberating the proposed P2.006-trillion budget for 2013.

Golez is among the lawmakers who oppose the passage of the RH bill.

On Monday night, the House voted to end the debates, which started in March 2011, and proceed to the period of committee and individual amendments so a final version of the bill could be crafted for passage on second and third reading.  (MNS)

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