President Rodrigo Duterte called for the construction of permanent evacuation centers as the Department of the Interior and Local Government noted the lack of such infrastructure to shelter vulnerable Filipinos in times of calamities and natural disasters.
“It is high time that government considers building strong structures, stronger than a typhoon,” the President said during his “Talk to the People Address” last Tuesday.
Duterte also intends for said evacuation facilities to be complete with amenities, saying “Maybe small rooms with many comfort rooms where people can really stay for a while.”
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go echoed the President’s call, saying that he is pursuing the construction of permanent evacuation centers through his proposed legislative measure filed in the Senate, recognizing that most evacuees stay in public schools which are not ideal alternatives for a disaster relief shelter.
Go renewed his call for the passage of his proposed measure Senate Bill 1228 which provides for the establishment of an evacuation center in every city, municipality and province throughout the country.
While he noted that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has exerted efforts to build evacuation centers in every region, he said that these need to be augmented further and enhanced to accommodate the needs and protect the lives of all evacuees during calamities.
Go added that these evacuation centers to be established must be conducive for concerned agencies involved in disaster response to be able to provide immediate assistance to the evacuees. Health and safety protocols must also be in place to prevent the spread of diseases, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill also provides for the minimum requirements for every evacuation center, such as its location, amenities and accessibility, operation and management. As for its appropriation, the construction and maintenance of evacuation centers under the measure will be sourced from a portion of the general appropriations for the DPWH.
As for victims currently staying in evacuation centers, he reminded them and local officials to strictly observe and implement health protocols to avoid an increase in COVID-19 cases. He added that health safety officers should be deployed in evacuation sites to ensure that the medical needs of evacuees are provided and their safety is prioritized.
Moreover, Go said that he is confident that the country will be able to overcome these challenges and “build back better.”
“Filipinos are known for their resilience and we have always been proud of that. But it is the government’s duty to ensure that communities are built to be more disaster-resilient to protect the lives of Filipinos,” he emphasized.
“More than simply rebuilding, we should build back better,” he added.
The Senator then urged concerned agencies that are part of the recently created inter-agency task force to expedite the rehabilitation of affected areas towards creating more disaster-resilient communities in the country.
“I cannot stress this enough: Government must move as one to ensure that the delivery of assistance is timely, effective, and responsive,” he added.