Bicolano lawmakers propose disaster-resilient evacuation centers


By Billy Begas

Four lawmakers from Bicol led by Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte have jointly proposed a measure seeking to establish disaster-resilient, fully-equipped evacuation centers in every city and municipality.

Villafuerte, Camarines Sur Representatives Miguel Luis Villafuerte and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata, and Bicol Saro party-list Rep. Nicolas Enciso VIII underscored the importance of House Bill 1091 following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in northern Luzon last week.

“The dislocation of thousands of families as an offshoot of the magnitude-7 earthquake that jolted Abra and other parts of the North has underlined anew the urgency of establishing disaster-resilient evacuation centers for the temporary shelter of those adversely affected by the onslaught of natural calamities and disease outbreaks,” said Villafuerte.

Villafuerte first raised the proposal in September 2018 following the onslaught of super typhoon Ompong that killed at least 65 people and sent over 100,000 individuals to evacuation centers.

He said the construction of evacuation centers will do away with the use of public schools as evacuation sites, a practice that has been strongly discouraged by the Department of Education (DepEd) as it disrupts classes until the evacuees are able to return to their homes.

The measure provides that evacuation centers shall be constructed and designed to withstand super typhoons or wind speeds of at least 300 kilometers per hour, and seismic activity of at least 8.0 magnitude.

The facilities must have sleeping quarters for the evacuees, separate shower and toilet facilities designated for males and females, amenities to enable access by persons with disabilities (PWDs), emergency exit door, food preparation areas with adequate ventilation, trash, and waste segregation and collection areas, health care areas, rainwater harvesting and collection facilities, among others.

The Philippines is susceptible to natural hazards, unforeseen disasters, and other calamities because of its location along the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire,’ an area where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are more recurring than in any other area of the world, the authors said.

“While the State cannot control the indefinite occurrence of these calamities, it can, however, control the preparedness of the government and its people in facing such unfortunate incidents. The more prepared we are, the less impact these disasters can leave in the lives of the people,” the lawmakers added.

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