House wants free transportation of relief goods to areas under state of calamity

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 4) — A unanimous House of Representatives approved Wednesday a bill that seeks to make the transportation of relief goods and donations to calamity-stricken areas free.

House Bill No. 5070, which cleared the chamber with 170 lawmakers voting in favor of it, wants to require the Office of Civil Defense, the Philippine Postal Corporation, all freight companies, common carriers, private carriers, freight forwarders and other logistics companies to provide free freight services to duly-registered relief organizations in the transportation of emergency relief goods and donations to areas under a state of calamity.

Under the bill, a duly-registered relief organization is a non-profit relief organization registered, licensed or accredited with any national government agency.

Auxiliary shipping costs, meanwhile, will be shouldered by portside cargo handlers, pilotage and port authorities.

“This will further ensure that adequate relief assistance is given to individuals and communities most devastated by the disaster,” the measure’s primary author, San Jose Del Monte Rep. Florida Robes had said.

Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid filed a similar bill last month in the upper chamber.

“Transporting relief goods normally entails huge costs in freight, arrastre services, pilotage and other port charges,” Lapid said in filing Senate Bill No. 1151. “These costs are shouldered by relief organizations and aid agencies, but such amount could have been allotted to acquire more food and nonfood items for distribution to disaster victims.”