By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Ralph Recto today reiterated his call for the building of permanent evacuation centers so that schools would not anymore be used as shelters during disasters and calamities.
Recto repeated his appeal amid the Mayon Volcano eruptions in Legazpi, Albay, which he said, showed that schoolchildren are the “first collateral victims” as their schools are being used by affected residents as temporary shelters.
The Senate President Pro-Tempore said this “constant” practice can be stopped by building permanent evacuation centers, calling on the government to step up its evacuation center-building program.
In 2016, he filed Senate Bill No. 805 which seeks the construction of a multiuse gym in every city and municipality for disaster purposes. The sports-cum-evacuation center, Recto explained, “hits two birds with one stone.”
“It addresses the shortage of covered sports facilities in municipalities and the need for a disaster-resilient safe building people can seek shelter in during calamities,” Recto said.
He said the building could also serve as a headquarters for local disaster management committees as well as storage for rescue equipment and emergency supplies.
Recto said putting up such a building in every town would prevent schools from becoming default evacuation areas during calamities,” a practice which turns students into displaced persons, too.”
With Philippines being one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, Recto said evacuation centers should be part of the government’s disaster response infrastructure.