Gov’t urged to transform open gaming, other multipurpose venues into evacuation centers

Published September 16, 2018, 4:57 PM

by iManila Developer

By Ben Rosario

Noticing a “glut” in basketball courts in the country, a party-list lawmaker on Sunday urged government to consider transforming open gaming and other multipurpose venues into evacuation centers to save time and money in constructing new ones.

(Photo courtesy of QC Barangay Captain Elizabeth Cheche de Jesus via Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
(Photo courtesy of QC Barangay Captain Elizabeth Cheche de Jesus via Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe said the cost in the conversion of open-air basketball court and multipurpose plazas could save government at least 80 percent of the estimated budget for developing new evacuation centers.

“This will also free our schools from being converted into instant homes for evacuees during times of natural or man-made disasters,” Batocabe said.

The party-list lawmaker said the idea is in response to the growing concern of the public over the effects on education of government rescue and relief operations that usually utilize public schools.

He said President Duterte was correct in airing serious concern over this problem when the chief executive instructed the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to build more evacuation centers to minimize the use of school buildings during typhoons and other calamities.

“What we are proposing is a simple formula that could save government billions of pesos and at the same time fast-track the creation of more evacuation centers,” Batocabe said.

He noted that government policy calls for the putting up by local government units of evacuation centers to be financed by the national government.

LGUs are enjoined to acquire or make available lots with minimum 3,000 square meters in size where evacuation centers will be built.

Batocabe recalled that the Department of Budget and Management, apparently fed up by congressional allocation for the construction of basketball courts, has prohibited the use of Priority Development Assistance Fund for such projects.

He also noted that LGUs, especially those in the provinces, are too poor to acquire new lots that officials still prefer the use of public school buildings to serve as temporary homes for victims of calamities.

‘Also disheartening is the fact that it would cost government a minimum P50million in taxpayers money to construct new ones. Conversion of basketball courts will cost around P10 million, thus, saving government at least P40 million,’’ Batocabe explained.

Duterte had directed NDRRMC executive director Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad to speed up the construction of new evacuation centers after Education Secretary Leonor Briones reiterated her concerns that the use of school buildings as evacuation centers disrupts the flow of classes.

“It’s about time that… General Jalad think of this. Then give me a position paper and I will work on it for the budget,” Duterte told Jalad during a command conference on Typhoon Ompong on Thursday.

“My misgiving, for the longer they [evacuees] stay in the school, the longer would be the disturbance of the education of the children,” Duterte said.