By Argyll Geducos
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said more than 200 evacuation centers were programmed to be constructed under their budget for 2020, but more will be added following a recent directive of President Duterte.
Highways Secretary Mark Villar made the statement days after Duterte ordered for the construction of more evacuation centers in disaster-prone areas in the wake of the Taal Volcano eruption.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, Villar said they are targeting to complete 200 evacuation centers within the year, and they can construct more if they will be given additional funds.
“Madadagdagan po ‘yun (We can add to the 200) if we get additional budget. But ‘yung iba siguro hindi rin matatapos sa loob ng isang taon (We probably won’t be able to finish everything in just one year) but we’ll do our best to build as many as we can within the year,” he said Wednesday.
Villar said they are looking to build at least two evacuation centers in each province this year.
On Monday, Duterte urged Congress to allocate funds for the construction of evacuation centers in disaster-prone areas including areas near Taal Volcano, while the legislative branch works on a supplemental budget for the victims of the eruption.
“In the meantime that we are expecting another eruption, mas mabuti na lang na umpisahan na rin ang (It’s better that they start now with the) evacuation center,” Duterte said. “Dagdagan na lang, gawain nilang P50 [billion] para magtayo ng evacuation center (Congress should increase the P30 billion to P50 billion so we can build evacuation centers).”
According to Villar, there really is a need for more evacuation centers because of the number of evacuees. “Sa dami rin ng mga evacuees, we need more. So ‘yan po ‘yung sinasabi ni President na kailangan pa nating dagdagan (We need more [budget] because of the number of evacuees. That’s why the President said we needed to have more budget) and there are moves at this point to increase the budget.”
“Tingin ko io-augment nila yung budget sa (I think Congress is going to augment the budget for) evacuation centers,” he added.
Aside from evacuation centers, Villar said they could use the additional budget to beef up their quick response fund and for the maintenance of existing buildings so they can respond immediately to calamities.
Villar likewise understood that the P30 billion supplemental budget will be used to cater to the needs of those affected by the eruption of the Taal Volcano.
“Siyempre, pati sa for assistance to the calamity victims, siguro sa housing, and of course immediate assistance. Pwedeng relief goods (Of course there will be allocations for assistance to calamity victims, housing, also relief goods),” he said.
“Hindi pa finalized ‘yung amounts, but definitely lahat ng needs ng ating mga evacuees ay mako-cover ng supplemental budget (The amount is not yet finalized, but definitely the needs of the evacuees will be covered by the supplemental budget).”