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Permanent evacuation sites needed for disaster-stricken families

Senator Win Gatchalian said the government should seriously consider mandating the establishment of permanent evacuation centers especially in disaster-prone areas in the country.


BATANGAS CITY, Philippines – Residents who fled their homes during an earlier eruption of Taal Volcano navigate their way through folding partitions at an evacuation center at the Batangas Provincial Sports Complex, 17 Jan. 2020 file. Senator Win Gatchalian has renewed his call to the national government to augment its yearly budget for the construction of permanent facilities for evacuees, while prioritizing local government units with the most vulnerable communities and with less secure infrastructure. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Gatchalian renewed his call saying that the national government should augment the yearly budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to cover the needed appropriations for the construction of the necessary facilities for evacuees.

“Sa dami at dalas na manalasa ng kalamidad sa bansa natin, dapat natuto na tayo sa mga trahedyang nagdaan at may nakalatag nang mga hakbang para sa mga nangangailangan ng agarang paglikas sa mula sa kani-kanilang mga lugar,” said Gatchalian, author of Senate Bill No. 747 or the proposed Evacuation Center Act.

“Sa gitna ng pakikipaglaban natin sa pandemya, dapat bigyan din ng atensyon ang paulit-ulit na pangangailangan ng mga kababayan natin tuwing mayroong kalamidad,” he added.

The University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (UPRI) and disaster preparedness advocacy group Agap Banta have been suggesting since last year for the government to earmark at least P1 billion annually over the next three years for the establishment of permanent evacuation centers all over the country.

Based on their information, 182 municipalities or 67% of 270 vulnerable provinces do not have permanent evacuation facilities for disaster victims. According to reports, typhoons Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses that hit the country last year displaced around 545,000 families in eight regions and these incidents exposed the unsafe conditions of the evacuation sites as some barangay halls used as alternative temporary shelters have been flooded or damaged.

Gatchalian said the proposed permanent evacuation centers should be located at a safe distance from danger areas or hazards and must also have the most basic amenities such as sleeping area, eating area, shower and toilet, food preparation area, isolation area for potentially infectious people, and pet and livestock holding area.

In his bill, Gatchalian said that priority should be given to local government units with the most vulnerable communities and with less secure infrastructure based on the assessment of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).