Former president and newly-elected Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday morning visited her congressional district to join the relief operations for typhoon victims. Speaker Arroyo, together with Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda, led the distribution of relief goods to the residents of Brgy. Sebitanan in Sasmuan, Pampanga.
There were around 663 families affected in Sebitanan alone. Arroyo explained that they identified the areas gravely affected by the typhoon to be able to assist them as soon as possible.
“I looked at the reports of the most devastated areas. We identified about 10 districts and said, we assist the 10 districts immediately,” said Arroyo.
Speaker Arroyo added, “we start with the relief goods, maybe, medical [assistance] din. That’s why we have the NDCC (National Disaster Coordinating Council) meeting on Monday so we can find out from them what are the plans for rehabilitation and check them out.”
Thereafter, she visited Dinalupihan, one of the municipalities in Bataan that was badly hit by the typhoons and was even placed under state of calamity. Speaker Arroyo was warmly welcomed by Rep. Geraldine Roman (1st District, Bataan) along with other local officials.
Dinalupihan Mayor Gila Garcia expressed gratitude to Arroyo for providing immediate assistance to the typhoon victims in Bataan.
“Nagpapasalamat po kami, Ma’am sa inyo pong pagbisita [at] sa inyo pong pagdala ng maraming biyaya para po makapagtawid-gutom sa mga nasalanta rito sa bayan ng Bataan,” Garcia said as she recognized the Speaker.
Rep. Roman also recounted the concern expressed by Arroyo on her first day as House Speaker.
“Noong unang araw ng paglilingkod ng ating minamahal na Speaker, hindi niya po pinag-usapan kung sino ang mga matatalaga sa mahahalagang posisyon. Ang una niyang pinag-usapan ay ang pagtulong sa mga mamamayan na nasalanta ng habagat. At ang una niyang tinanong sa’kin, ‘Geraldine, paano ako makakatulong sa mga mamamayan ng Bataan?” Roman said.
Arroyo, for her part, shared that her responsibility is not limited to her constituents in the 2nd District of Pampanga, especially now that she was elected as House Speaker.
“Kapitbayan tayo. Kapag natatamaan ang Bataan, natatamaan din ang Pampanga. Kapag natatamaan ang Dinalupihan, natatamaan din ang Lubao. Kaya noong hindi pa ako Speaker, hinanda ko na magkaroon ng relief sa Lubao, lalo na sa coastal area. Noong nagingSpeaker ako, hindi lang 2nd District of Pampanga ang responsibility ko ngayon. Responsibility ko ang ating mga congresswomen, kagaya ni Geraldine, na tulungan ang kanilang mga distrito,” Arroyo stated.
In an interview after the relief operations, Arroyo said that a priority bill is being processed in Congress that shall create a Disaster Management Department. She hopes that it will be passed at the Committee level the following week.| M Gonzales