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Evacuation centers in LGUs pushed amid West Valley Fault quake warning

Photo by Reuters

Amid fears of the “Big One” to be triggered by the movement of the West Valley Fault, Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian has filed a proposed measure, which seeks to establish an evacuation center in every municipality and city.

“The importance of a permanent and fully operational evacuation center with the necessary facilities in place cannot be disregarded during a calamity or in times of armed conflict when residents of a community need to be relocated,” Gatchalian said in the explanatory note of his House Bill No. 5867.


Gatchalian’s HB 5867, also known as the “Evacuation Center Act”, also aims to ensure that all evacuation centers comply with the National Building Code.



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Apart from compliance with the building code, the evacuation centers should be designed to withstand a 320​-kilometer wind speed brought about by super typhoons and a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, which is expected to hit some parts of Metro Manila where the West Valley Fault runs.

“The establishment of permanent evacuation centers in all localities with the necessary facilities will address the issues encountered by evacuees including congestion, exposure to hazards, and lack of facilities. It will also enhance the delivery of social services during calamities and help minimize the loss of lives,” the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) congressman pointed out.

The lawmaker, a majority member of House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, added his bill also aims to avoid the disruption of classes and school activities caused by the common practice of using schools as evacuation centers during times of disaster.

“In order to ease the pressure on classrooms of schools used as evacuation centers, constructing additional structures in these educational facilities will also be an option in areas where it will be difficult to have new evacuation centers,” he said.

If enacted into law, HB 5867 shall mandate the establishment of an evacuation center in every city and municipality that will accommodate victims of natural calamities, fire, and outbreak of illnesses and diseases that present imminent danger to life.



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Each evacuation center must have ample areas and facilities for sleeping and eating, as well as shower and toilets, kitchen, clinic, laundry, and recreation areas. Trash collection should also be taken into consideration to ensure the cleanliness in the center.

Kitchen and dining areas should be able to cater the number of people in the evacuation center and must comply with the satisfactory standards of the Department of Health (DOH).

The “Evacuation Center Act” will task the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to make a list of high-priority areas in cities and municipalities that needs to have an evacuation center, particularly in areas vulnerable to natural disasters and calamities, including earthquakes.

When an LGU included in the priority list does not have an available site for a new evacuation center, NDRRMC may instead opt to improve schools or other structures already being used by the locality for evacuation purposes for it to comply with the standards of this Act.

Meanwhile, the exact location for the construction of evacuation centers in areas included in the high-priority list will determined by the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (LDRRMC) in each local government unit (LGU) in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).



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LDRRMC will determine the location of evacuation centers with consideration to proper drainage, ground elevation, resistance to strong winds, and distance from vulnerable communities.

The local disaster preparedness agency will also take into account the availability of livestock, water storage, toilets, and parking areas for emergency vehicles in putting up evacuation centers.
The operation and management of evacuation centers under this Act shall be under the LGU where it is situated, while the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) shall be in charge with the maintenance of evacuation centers. (Tim Alcantara)