Senator Win Gatchalian has refiled a bill that seeks to establish an evacuation center in every city and municipality in the Philippines.
Senate Bill No. 940 or the Evacuation Center Act provides that these evacuation centers shall provide immediate evacuation for people who have been evacuated or 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 pointed out the common practice of using school buildings as evacuation centers during calamities, which disrupt school activities. He further said that there is a lack of or inadequacy of calamity-proof school buildings and classrooms. Because of this, many classrooms also get damaged after a typhoon or calamity and therefore cannot be utilized as evacuation centers.
Under Gatchalian’s proposed measure, new evacuation centers and improvements in schools used as evacuation centers should be able to withstand wind speeds of 320 kilometers per hour and moderate seismic activity of at least 7.2 magnitude.
“Hindi na tayo dapat masanay na gumamit ng mga silid-paaralan bilang mga evacuation center, lalo na’t nakakaantala ito sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon matapos ang isang sakuna,” Gatchalian said.
In Western Visayas alone, the Department of Education (DepEd) Region 6’s Rapid Assessment and Damages Report (RADAR) showed that 380 classrooms were totally damaged, with 397 more partially damaged when super typhoon Odette ravaged the country in December 2021. RADAR also reported that there were 11 schools damaged in Central Luzon, 9 in Cagayan Valley, 8 from Cordillera Administrative Region, and 7 in Ilocos Region from the recent earthquake in July this year.
The National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and the chief executives of local government units (LGU) shall also make a priority list of LGUs needing evacuation centers. If an LGU has no available site for construction, the NDRRMC may consider improving facilities in schools or other structures already being used as evacuation centers, according to Gatchalian.