Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the government to uphold the safety and welfare of children in typhoon-stricken areas.
Following the onslaught of super typhoon Karding, Gatchalian called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Education (DepEd) to ensure that children are in safe spaces, emphasizing that they are the most vulnerable when disasters strike. He also urged the agencies to make sure that children’s health, nutrition, and sanitation needs are met, as well as the provision of psychosocial support and the safe resumption of classes.
“Nakita na natin sa kasaysayan ang epekto sa mga kabataan kapag mayroong mga sakuna. For instance, children were battling malnutrition and diseases in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda. A great number of children had to stop attending classes then to help their families earn a living. Some were even forced into prostitution,” Gatchalian recalled.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported on September 26 that some 20,380 families have been preemptively evacuated because of the super typhoon. Based on the NDRRMC situational report for September 26, a total of 43 schools and 66 classrooms in Regions NCR, III, and V were used as evacuation centers.
“Kailangang tiyakin natin ang kaligtasan ng mga kabataang apektado ng nagdaang bagyo. Dapat din nating tiyakin na matutugunan natin ang pangangailangan nila pagdating sa kalusugan at makakabalik sila nang ligtas sa kanilang mga paaralan, lalo na’t matagal na naantala ng pandemya ang kanilang edukasyon” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
The lawmaker also reiterated the need to construct structurally-sound evacuation centers in all cities and municipalities, a move that he said would avoid the use of school buildings and facilities as temporary shelters for those who needed to evacuate during emergencies.
Gatchalian refiled the Evacuation Center Act (Senate Bill No. 940) as one of his proposed measures for the 19th Congress, which seeks to establish an evacuation center in every city and municipality in the Philippines. These evacuation centers will provide immediate evacuation for people who have been displaced from their homes due to disasters, calamities, or other emergency events, including severe climate disturbances, fire, and the outbreak of illnesses and diseases.
Gatchalian also refiled the 21st Century School Boards Act (Senate Bill No. 155). Under the proposed measure, the local school boards’ functions are expanded to include the introduction of timely, organized, and localized interventions in the delivery of basic education services during times of calamities, disasters, and emergencies.