The Senate bill allows the free movement of aid to disaster-affected areas

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A bill was introduced to the Senate aiming to provide free freight facilities for the distribution of relief supplies and in-kind contributions to disaster-affected areas.

Senator Lito Lapid, author of Senate Bill No. 1151, said that this was intended to ensure immediate disaster response in areas affected by the calamity.

Under the bill, also known as the “Free Relief Goods Transportation Act,” Lapid is aiming to institutionalize a program that will promote properly-recognized relief organizations in providing “speedy, efficient and unhindered distribution of relief goods” to disaster-hit areas through the free movement of humanitarian aid.

He pointed out that the country’s archipelagic nature makes transporting relief and emergency items even more difficult and would normally involve enormous freight costs, which are usually borne by relief organizations and aid agencies that could have been allocated to purchase more food and non-food items for distribution to victims of disasters.

Under the law, the Civil Defense Office (OCD) is required, in cooperation with the Philippine Postal Corporation (PPC) and all freight companies, common carriers, private carriers, freight forwarders and other logistics services providers in the Philippines, to provide free freight services to properly registered relief organizations for the transport of emergency relief goods.

Specifically to areas where they operate, these common carriers, freight forwarders and other similar entities are also required to provide goods and services for free.

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