MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE - 2:44 p.m.) Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Monday said he hopes to convince each member of the House of Representatives to cought up at least P1 million from their priority development assistance funds, commonly known as the pork barrel, for the victims of the devastating floods caused by tropical "Sendong" in Mindanao.
If granted, this would raise P285 million for the flood victims.
"We will try to get them (to give) P1 million each from their hard projects for infrastructure (development). This needs a national response from everybody and we should all contribute," Belmonte told a new conference.
He also urged lawmakers to give P20,000 each from their monthly salary.
"My office asks each congressman to contribute at least P20,000 cash. This is in addition to getting relief goods donations," Belmonte said in a text message when asked about the initiatives of the House to help the flood victims.
At least 600 people died in devastating flashfloods that struck Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and other Mindanao and Visayas provinces.
In a phone interview, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said at least 20 villages in his district were affected by the flood.
Rodriguez said although relief items are pouring in, these can meet only 30 percent of the victims' needs, especially for drinking water.
Makabayan, the coalition of progressive party-list organizations, said its relief operations are being coordinated with the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines - Northern Mindanao sub-Region, Panday Bulig Relief and Rehabilitation Center, and Sentro Kitanglad.
Details can be found at http://www.facebook.com/HelpNorthernMindanao?sk=wall
For its part, AKO Bicol (AKB) partylist will no longer hold its annual Christmas party for its coordinators, supporters and friends, and said it is donating to the city government of Cagayan de Oro its P250,000 budget for the event.
"This might be a small amount compared to the tremendous damage caused by the typhoon, but this represents our token of solidarity to the victims of the disaster," the group said in a statement.
"We cannot in conscience celebrate the Christmas season and the year that passed in wanton disregard of our fellow Filipinos who are currently suffering from a devastation of this magnitude – an experience and feeling we fully well know when Typhoon Reming devastated the Bicol Region in December 2006," it added.
The group said it will turn over its cash donation to Mayor Vicente Emano on Tuesday, December 20.
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