House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate underscored anew Sunday the significance of the establishment of evacuation centers where social distancing during the pandemic can still be maintained.
Zarate called on the congressional leadership to prioritize House Bill 5259 or the Evacuation Centers Bill so that victims of calamities would have a secure and safe venue to recover from disasters.
Zatate said that instead of continuously relying on school and basketball courts to temporary house displaced victims of natural disasters, government must now build shelters solely for evacuation purposes.
“With quarantine facilities for COVID patients occupying the normal evacuation centers in cities and provinces, and the successive battering of typhoons we are now experiencing; the need to fast track House Bill 5259 or the Evacuation Centers Bill becomes more apparent,” said the opposition solon.
“Areas hit by ‘Quinta’ have yet to recover but are now being hit by super typhoon ‘Rolly,’ the strongest recorded typhoon for 2020,” he said.
He pointed out that such areas are “hard put to evacuate their residents because their normal evacuation centers are occupied due to the COVID pandemic.”
The COVID-19 situation has made it necessary and urgent for the government to construct more disaster resilient evauation centers.
“Up till now evacuees are staying in basketball courts, schools, and churches,
even President Duterte has seen the problem himself and vowed to construct more evacuation centers early this year and with this we hope that House Bill 5259 would also be fasttracked,” noted Zarate.
The minority bloc leader lamented that despite the country’s experience during super typhoon “Yolanda,” there has been legislative proposals for the establishment of permanent evacuation centers that can withstand effects of other natural calamities.
“In our bill, the proposed evacuation centers should be typhoon, earthquake, and disaster resistant and have a stockpile of relief goods and equipment, so that the victims would be safer and would not be confined in tent cities which are exposed to the elements,” said the progressive solon.
“This is a departure from the common practice of using schools and multi-purpose halls as evacuation centers but are still in danger prone areas. The evacuation centers proposed by HB 5259 should also be located in between barangays so that more people can reach them at the soonest time possible and may also serve as the command center for disaster response,” added the partylist lawmaker.
“The fact that the Philippines is a country in the Ring of Fire and is also often visited by typhoons yearly, the government has to undertake measures while waiting for the completion of a comprehensive disaster preparedness program and its eventual implementation,” stressed Zarate.