In the hope to make our constituents safer in times of disasters, Senator Win Gatchalian renews his call for the establishment of permanent evacuation centers in every municipality and city in the country.
The former mayor of Valenzuela pointed out that 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.
Gatchalian cites the current situation in Batangas where local authorities see the number of evacuees to grow to at least 200 thousand while Taal Volcano continues to spew plumes of ash. Records from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) show there are 30,423 persons or 6,891 families who were temporarily displaced. The same report also shows there are only 118 evacuation centers being used in Batangas and Cavite.
Gatchalian expresses concern that with no permanent evacuation centers, the current situation might take a toll on the students and teachers in the long run since many schools are being utilized as temporary shelters for displaced families. The Department of Education (DepEd) reported there are 14 schools in three divisions under Region IV-A being used as evacuation centers.
“Nakagawian na natin na sa tuwing may sakuna sa ating bayan, ang kadalasan na ginagawa nating evacuation centers ay ang mga eskwelahan. Dahil dito, madalas naapektuhan ang pag-aaral ng mga bata kasi hindi natin alam kung kelan mananatili ang evacuees sa mga paaralan,” he said.
Gatchalian filed in July last year Senate Bill No. 747 or “An Act Establishing Evacuation Centers in Every Municipality and City, Providing For The Necessary Facilities, Ensuring Their Structural Capacity, and Appropriating Funds.”
SB 747, in a nut shell, mandates every municipalities and cities to construct an evacuation center for people who have been evacuated or displaced from their homes due to emergency events such as 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.
The bill sets the minimum requirements for every evacuation center that will be established, including its location, structural capacity, suitability and capacity of premises, physical amenities, and food safety.