Two more towns near Taal Volcano received P100 million funding from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for the construction of Multi-Purpose Evacuation Centers (MPECs) as the agency continues to augment the government’s disaster preparedness and management measures in high-risk areas, including CALABARZON.
The active state of the Taal volcano and its heavy eruptions in 2020 placed CALABARZON in the priority areas of PAGCOR’s MPEC Project. CALABARZON — which consists of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon provinces — unfortunately, suffers from floods and typhoons apart from the dangers of volcanic eruptions.
Both the municipalities of Laurel in Batangas and Calauan in Laguna (through the Laguna Provincial Government) formally received P50 million each worth of MPEC during the groundbreaking ceremonies on December 3, 2021. Each recipient local government unit received the initial P25 million, which represents the first tranche of funding to kickstart the construction of the evacuation centers.
Thirty-seven-year-old Benedict Fernandez of Barangay Buso-Buso in Laurel town, whose family lives within the seven-kilometer danger zone of Taal Volcano, felt a great relief after learning that they will soon have a safe place to go to whenever they need to evacuate their homes.
The PAGCOR-funded evacuation facility in Laurel will soon rise in Barangay San Gregorio.
“Mas maganda po na may evacuation center na mapupuntahan kesa sa eskwelahan. Dahil sa eskwelahan po, natutulog kami na may sahod na timba sa may tiyan, natulo po yung bubong. Pagka-malakas po ang ulan, nalipat kami sa kamag-anak naming malapit sa evacuation center ang bahay,” said the father of three who still prefers living near Taal lake as fishing has become his means of providing for the family.
Laurel Mayor Joan Lumbres-Amo also expressed gratitude to the state-gaming corporation for the big project accorded them.
“Kami po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa PAGCOR sa pagkakaloob nila sa isa sa pinakamalaki at pinakamahalagang proyekto sa aming bayan. Ito ay maituturing naming maagang pamaskong handog para sa amin. Kaya makakaasa kayo na ito ay aming aalagaan, gagamitin nang maayos para nang sa ganun ay marami pa ang makinabang. Ako po ay nagpapasalamat na sa panahong kailangang-kailangan po namin ng karamay, hindi po kayo nag-atubili na kami ay inyong tulungan,” the town chief said.
Meanwhile, the soon-to-rise MPEC in Barangay Lamot II, Calauan, Laguna, will cater to the growing population of the province.
According to Laguna Governor Ramil Hernandez, Laguna being the third most populated province in the country is in need of such infrastructure which will be useful not only during times of calamities but also for the proper implementation of other government services.
Launched in 2020, PAGCOR’s MPEC project now has released a total of P1.359 billion to kickstart the construction of 59 MPECs nationwide. The amount represents the first tranche or 50% of PAGCOR’s committed funding for the project.
Areas which already received MPEC funding from PAGCOR include the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Cavite, Cagayan, Pampanga, Albay, Camarines Sur and Norte, Mountain Province, Kalinga, Ilocos Sur, Zamboanga del Sur, Romblon, Capiz, Samar, Tarlac, Aurora, Bataan, Eastern and Southern Leyte, Pangasinan, Isabela, Catanduanes, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Isabela, and Caloocan.