House cancels Christmas party; Speaker to donate P20-mil

The House of Representatives will no longer throw Christmas party for congressmen and their staff to sympathize with the victims of Typhoon "Pablo" this year.

Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. made the instruction this week, taking the cue from various government agencies that wanted to help local government units in affecred places in Mindanao.

"(We) cancelled (the parties in) congress in deference to 'Pablo' victims and the massive damage they are left with," Belmonte said.

Related story: Philippines typhoon death toll tops 900

Belmonte expressed aim to raise donations for typhoon victims from the savings that will be generated by foregoing the annual Christmas party.

House members splurge thousands of money hosting and giving gifts to their staff and the media in the spirit of giving during holidays every year.

The top House official also encouraged fellow legislators to donate savings from their priority development and assistance fund (PDAF) to typhoon-stricken districts in Mindanao.

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"I myself transferred P20 million of soft PDAF from my district to calamity-stricken parts of Compostela (Valley) and Davao Oriental," Belmonte revealed.

After returning to the country, Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao pledged to donate P10 million of his own money to "Pablo" victims.

In its 5am update, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRMC) said the typhoon has affected 5,516,181 people as 59,764 of them still remain in evacuation centers.

NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos said the death toll, which currently stands at 906, may reach 2,000 fearing 932 people who remain missing could have died from flash floods and landslides.

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Ramos also said the typhoon has damaged about P15.1 billion worth of infrastructure and agricultural properties.  

Earlier, outgoing police chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome ordered all police units to cancel all preparations for Christmas parties this year.

The Philippine Army as well as the defense and budget departments also cancelled their Christmas parties to raise donations for typhoon victims.

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