PAGCOR grants P100 million to Laguna, Batangas LGUs for construction of evacuation centers

Published May 8, 2021, 11:49 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Good news to all Laguna and Batangas residents who are often displaced by typhoons and other extreme weather conditions.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has provided P50 million each to the local government units of San Pablo City in Laguna and the town of Lobo in Batangas for the construction of their own Multi-Purpose Evacuation Center (MPEC).

PAGCOR President and COO Alfredo Lim (3rd from left) formally turns over to San Pablo City Mayor Loreto Amante (3rd from right) the P25 million check, representing the first tranche of the agency’s P50 million grant for the construction of a two-storey multi-purpose evacuation center in Barangay San Gregorio. With them are (from left) PAGCOR’s Asst. VP for Community Relations and Services Ramon Stephen Villaflor, PAGCOR Director Reynaldo Concordia and San Pablo City Vice Mayor Justin Colago. (Photo from PAGCOR)

The two-storey emergency facilities will also serve as satellite offices and activity venues when not utilized for evacuation purposes, the state-run gaming firm noted.

It said the first tranche of the funding amounting to P25 million was given to San Pablo City on May 7, while the municipality of Lobo got the same initial funding for their MPEC project a day earlier during separate groundbreaking rites.

The MPECs will be constructed in Barangay San Gregorio and in a mountainside community in Lobo, Batangas.

PAGCOR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrea Domingo said amid the dwindling revenues of the agency due to the temporary closure of gaming operations, the agency will continue financing the construction of emergency facilities in different identified sites nationwide.

“Our commitment to provide safe and comfortable shelters to those living in places that are always in the path of strong typhoons and other natural calamities is as serious as our efforts to help the government win the battle against the pandemic,” she assured.

Cathedral Parish of St. Paul Rector and Parish Priest Rev. Monsignor Jerry Bitoon (extreme left) blesses the site in Barangay San Gregorio, San Pablo City where the PAGCOR-funded multi-purpose evacuation center will rise. Looking on are PAGCOR President and COO Alfredo Lim (2nd from left), San Pablo City Mayor Loreto Amante (3rd from left), PAGCOR Director Reynaldo Concordia (2nd from right) and San Pablo City Vice Mayor Justin Colago (extreme right). (Photo from Pagcor)

San Pablo City Mayor Loreto Amante thanked PAGCOR for his town’s inclusion in its list of MPEC recipients.

“Unlike the other provinces that are always swamped by heavy floods during heavy rains, what endangers our residents are the strong winds brought by typhoons, which forces us most of the time to evacuate them to schools and other places available. With the aid that we received from PAGCOR, we can now have a permanent, safe and comfortable structure to house them whenever they need to be evacuated,” he said.

PAGCOR said the MPEC to be built in Lobo, Batangas “will directly benefit thousands of residents of at least three seaside barangays of the town who constantly face the threat of severe weather disturbances like typhoons and storm surge.”

The agency said 40-year-old fisherman, Darwis Alda whose family is always evacuated to safer grounds each time their community is swamped with raging seawaters during strong typhoons, will be among those who are expected to benefit from the MPEC initiative.

Forty-year-old fisherman Darwis Alda is among those who will benefit from MPEC project in Lobo, Batangas. (Photo from PAGCOR)

“Palagi na lang po kaming nagtitiis sa siksikang mga eskwelahan kapag kinakailangang mag-evacuate dahil sa pagbaha sa aming lugar dala ng malalakas na alon. Kawawa po ang mga bata. Mabuti na lang at may nagmalasakit na kami ay tulungan para magkaroon ng maayos at komportableng evacuation center dito sa aming bayan (We have always to stay at cramped, crowded schools when we need to evacuate because of flooding in our area due to strong waves. We pity our children. Fortunately, someone showed concern and help us to have a proper and comfortable evacuation center here in our town),” he said.

Since the launch of MPEC project in November 2020, PAGCOR has so far released over P600 million for the construction of MPECs in various parts of the country.

PAGCOR said other LGUs also received their funding for the MPECs, apart from San Pablo City, Laguna and Lobo, Batangas.

These are Southern Leyte, Aurora, Tarlac, Catarman, Samar; Barangays Camflora, Mangero and Poblacion in San Andres, Quezon; Tapaz, Capiz; Cajidiocan, Romblon; Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur; Tagudin, Ilocos Sur; Tadian, Mountain Province; Legazpi City and Ligao in Albay; Ocampo, Tigaon, San Jose and Sagnay in Camarines Sur; and San Fernando and Floridablanca in Pampanga.