Speaker Martin Romualdez turned his birthday celebration Monday night into an opportunity to help, raising P70.92 million in cash and pledges for disaster victims, with victims of a recent fire in Navotas City as the first beneficiaries.
Reports said at least five persons died, while two others were injured in a fire that razed a residential area in Navotas on Monday evening.
Romualdez, who celebrated his birthday on Monday turned over to Navotas Lone District Rep. Tobias Tiangco P5 million in cash to help the fire victims. The Speaker will also send 500 packs of rice, each consisting of 5 kilos, for distribution to the Navotas fire victims.
Meanwhile, under the Speaker’s leadership, the House of Representatives was able to raise P49.2 million in cash contributions and pledges and in-kind donations such as blankets, food items, and toiletries from lawmakers and private entities for its Tropical Storm “Paeng” relief drive.
In a related development, about 2,398 families affected by Paeng in Maguindanao and Antique have been served with clean water by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
In Maguindanao this week, the 28-man MMDA team served the villages of Pandi, Penditen, Kusiong Sitio Mandalay Badak, Kusiong Tinabon, Kusiong Sitio Mandalay, Sitio Tinabon, Igdalaquit, Kakar, Kusiong Sitio Tinabon, Tapian Sitio Tuka, Villafont, Buenavista, Sefegefen Sitio Kisufa, Dagurao Sitio Tenongol, Rempes Sitio Dela Fuente, Kusiong Pinutulan, Kusiong Proper, Kusiong Sitio Malanday, Kusiong Sitio Bual Badak, and Kusiong Sitio Pinutulan.
In Antique, the team also delivered clean water to barangays Igdalaquit, Villafont, and Buenavista.
The MMDA brought with them 40 units of portable water purification systems, which have the capacity of filtering 180 gallons of water per hour, and some materials for road clearing operations.
Also related to Paeng, Romualdez said he would rather make changes to the 2023 national budget pending before the Senate than pass a supplemental budget to help those affected by Paeng.
“The supplemental budget is a very formal process… Just specifically for Paeng, it might actually be more expedient to just use the current setup of what we have in terms of the budget and to actually effect the release,” Romualdez told reporters on Tuesday.
He expressed his gratitude to his guests led by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., First Lady Lisa Araneta-Marcos, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Senior House Deputy Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte First District Rep. Ferdinand Alexander A. Marcos, friends, and his fellow lawmakers for gracing the occasion.
Earlier, he appealed to family, friends, and colleagues that instead of sending gifts, well-wishers consider donating to his Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Initiative.
“I’d really like to thank all of you who contributed to helping those who were badly affected. Mr. President (Marcos), I’d really like to tell you how proud I am of the members of the House of Representatives and our friends here for making possible our mission of helping those who are in need during calamities and disasters,” he told his guests during his birthday celebration in Makati City.
“Again, thank you for the immediate response and support in releasing the much-needed assistance to those families who are affected. You made my birthday very, very meaningful tonight, first by being here and by supporting this program,” Romualdez added.
The Speaker also thanked his wife, Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez, and other organizers of the event that included House Majority Leader Manuel Jose M. Dalipe and Quezon 2nd District Rep. David C. Suarez.
In his birthday greetings for Romualdez, President Marcos also thanked the Speaker and his fellow lawmakers for their hard work and their support as shown by their swift action in attending to the priority measures of his administration.
He credited the hard work of Romualdez and the members of the House for their noteworthy achievements in advancing the kind of legislation to help realize his vision of improving the lives of our people.
“I am bold, I have great confidence because I know I have a partner in the Speaker. I really thank him and the job that he has done despite being difficult,” the President said of his maternal cousin.
Aside from his family, guests in Romualdez’s birthday celebration included Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Joseph Victor Ejercito, Cynthia Villar, and Ramon Revilla, Jr., and former Speakers Pantaleon Alvarez and Lord Allan Velasco.
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, Press Secretary-OIC Usec. Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil, former presidential spokesman Harry Roque, lawyer Larry Gadon, former Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista,
and ex-Senator Gringo Honasan, and others.
“Dear family, friends, and colleagues in public service, I am totally overcome with feelings of love and gratitude for your good wishes on my birthday. I cannot adequately thank all of you for your kind words and gestures that made me feel so blessed. Be that as it may, please accept my heartfelt appreciation and affection,” the Speaker said.
The House expressed its “sincerest and profound gratitude and appreciation” to its members, volunteers, and private entities that helped in its fund drive through House Resolution 531 unanimously adopted by its members.