Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged her colleagues in the Senate to pass the “Calamity Leave” bill which seeks to allow public and private workers to take care of their families and properties when disasters, such as the Taal eruption, strike.
In a message, De Lima pushed anew for the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. (SB) 1123 she authored following the Taal Volcano eruption that spewed smoke and ash, engulfing nearby areas and affecting most of Batangas, Cavite and Laguna.
“With calamities like typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions frequently happening in our country, I am reiterating my call for the passage of my proposed Senate Bill No. 1123, which seeks to provide a five-day special emergency leave for all workers in the public and private sector directly affected by natural disasters,” she said.
“Malinaw naman po: Sa mga ganitong di-inaasahang pagkakataon, kinakailangan ng ating mga kababayan ang sapat na panahon upang tutukan ang kaligtasan ng pamilya, at kahit paano’y makapagsimulang makabangon mula sa anumang delubyo,” she added.
Under the proposed measure, the five-day special emergency leave may be availed of by employees from both the public and private sectors upon declaration of a state of calamity by the local government or the President of the Philippines.
The Philippines has recently been on the receiving end of a growing number of disasters including volcanic activity, typhoons and earthquakes.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, also urged government offices and volunteers to fast-track rescue and relief efforts in the affected areas where thousands of citizens hurriedly left their homes as they were required to evacuate.
“Nananawagan tayo sa ating gobyerno at mga kapwa Pilipino: Ipaabot po sana natin ang mga tulong at ayudang kaya nating maipadala sa kanila—pagkain, tubig, gamot, at iba pang pangunahing pangangailangan—sa lalong madaling panahon,” the Senator from Bicol said.
“Please keep praying for our affected countrymen. Let us once again show our resilience as Filipinos and strengthen our faith to never waver during these challenging times,” she added.
The lady Senator from Bicol also praised the first responders and volunteers who willingly served and shared their resources with those affected by the crisis.
“Mula sa mga nag-aabang sa kalsada para magsaboy ng tubig sa marurumi at malalabong salamin ng sasakyan dulot ng abo para makaiwas sa disgrasya, sa mga namimigay ng libreng mask, sa mga simbahan at tanggapan na nagbukas ng pinto para matuluyan ng mga nagsilikas, hanggang sa mga volunteers at mga kawani ng ating pamahalaan na hindi alintana ang panganib sa pagresponde at pagsaklolo sa ating mga kababayan, maraming maraming salamat po sa inyong sakripisyo, pakikiramay at dedikasyon,” she said.
“Saludo po tayo sa mga kababayan nating nagkukusang-loob na magbukas-palad. Sa maliit man nilang paraan, napakalaki ng naipagkakaloob nilang lakas, galak at pag-asa para sa marami na bumangon at malampasan ang sakuna,” De Lima added.
As of this writing, authorities have not downgraded the Alert Level 4 at the Taal Volcano which, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, means that “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.”