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To LGUs: Social distancing should be observed in evacuation centers to prevent spread of COVID-19

As Typhoon Ambo barrels its way in the country, Senator Win Gatchalian urged Local Government Units (LGUs) to adhere to social-distancing measures and other COVID-19-related prevention protocols in the evacuation of those who are in the path of the storm.


BATANGAS CITY, Philippines – Folding partitions for this evacuation center provided privacy and distancing space for families as they take shelter at the Batangas Provincial Sports Complex during the recent Taal Volcano eruption, 17 Jan. 2020. With Typhoon Ambo amid the COVID-19 pandemic, former mayor and now Senator Win Gatchalian is reiterating his call for the establishment of permanent evacuation centers in every municipality and city with the necessary facilities through Senate Bill No. 747. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

With thousands of Filipinos expected to be displaced by Typhoon Ambo, Gatchalian expressed fear that the virus will quickly spread in evacuation centers if social distancing measures are not strictly observed.

Gatchalian pointed out that evacuation centers must be a safe place for Filipinos in times of calamity and pandemics. He said LGUs should allot more spacious evacuation centers, limit the number of families per evacuation center as well as the interaction of evacuees.

Proper hygiene in evacuation centers, such as frequent handwashing and wearing of facemasks all the time, should also be observed, according to the lawmaker.

“The very reason why we force people to evacuate their homes in times of calamities and natural disasters is to keep them out of harm’s way. We want them in a place where we know they are safe. But unlike in the previous years, we are facing a once-in-a-century pandemic at this point and our goal should always be that these families are safe not only from the storm but also from the deadly disease,” Gatchalian said.

“Magiging walang silbi ang paglikas natin sa ating mga kababayan kung dadalhin natin sila sa isang lugar na, sa bandang huli ay, maaari ring magdulot ng pagkahawa ng COVID-19. At ito’y magiging isang dagok sa kampanya ng gobyerno kontra sa coronavirus kung magkakaroon ng outbreak ng sakit sa mga evacuation centers dahil sa ating kapabayaan,” he added.

In the hope to make our constituents safer in times of disasters, Senator Gatchalian renews his call for the establishment of permanent evacuation centers in every municipality and city in the country moving forward.

The establishment of permanent evacuation centers with the necessary facilities will address the issues encountered by evacuees in times of calamity, including congestion, exposure to hazards and lack of facilities, according to the former Valenzuela mayor.

Last year, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 747, which mandates every municipality and city to construct an evacuation center for people who have been evacuated or displaced from their homes due to typhoons, floods, storm surges, drought and other severe climate disturbances, as well as fire, and the outbreak of illnesses and diseases that cause imminent danger to life and property.