Tulfo files bill establishing evacuation centers in every city, municipality in PH

Senator Raffy Tulfo has filed a bill seeking to establish well-equipped evacuation centers in all 1,488 municipalities and 146 cities in the country.

In filing Senate Bill (SB)1652, Tulfo underscored the need for evacuation centers that have basic facilities, accessible location and adequate emergency supplies, such as water, medicine and relief goods considering that the Philippines is one of the most typhoon-prone countries in the world.

“When disaster and calamities strike, covered courts, gymnasiums, schools, and even churches serve as evacuation areas to shelter affected residents and families,” Tulfo said in the explanatory note of the bill.

“These areas are jam-packed when the situation worsens. Diseases; existing and unforeseen may also spread because these areas do not meet standard measures for a proper and well-ventilated evacuation center,” it added.

Notably, approximately 19 to 20 tropical cyclones (tropical depression, storms, typhoons enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) annually, with seven to nine making landfall, according to Climate Change Knowledge Portal for Development Practitioners and Policy Makers.

Under SB 1652, each location for every evacuation center shall be determined by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in close coordination with the local government units (LGUs) concerned.

The location must be centrally located in the community, must be of a safe distance from large trees and structures with hazardous materials, must be near a health facility, must be located on geotechnically stable land, must not be located near military base camps and camps of insurgent groups.

Its structure must also be calamity-resilient and built with sturdy materials, and must have the capacity to accommodate a large number of evacuees.

Tulfo also proposed that under the bill, the LGUs concerned should be primarily responsible for the operation, supervision, and management of evacuation centers.

The local sanggunian, meanwhile, shall promulgate guidelines and procedures for the use and operation of the evacuation center under its jurisdiction.