TACLOBAN CITY– Leyte 4th District Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez is pushing for the establishment of standard evacuation centers in all towns and cities nationwide to boost the country’s disaster preparedness.
Gomez said in a statement on Friday that the approval of House Bill 8900 on its third and final reading at the House of Representatives on Thursday is a “huge step in the country’s march towards rectifying our preparedness for disaster events”.
“The passage of the bill is something to celebrate, but people should be reminded that standardized, well-equipped evacuation centers are something basic and it has been long overdue,” she added.
Gomez thanked her fellow lawmakers for approving the proposed bill. She also called on counterparts in the Senate to support the move.
Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina Tan, the principal author of the measure, said the establishment of evacuation centers in every city and municipality throughout the county is crucial to provide immediate and temporary accommodation for people who have been evacuated or displaced from their homes due to emergency events such as typhoons, floods, storm surges, drought and other severe climate disturbances, as well as fire, and the outbreak of illnesses and diseases that presents an imminent danger to life and property such as the present coronavirus pandemic.
Under the proposed measure, evacuation centers have to be constructed in all cities and towns to serve as immediate and temporary shelter for the people who have been evacuated or displaced due to emergencies such as typhoons, floods, fire, among others.
Aside from ensuring the safety of citizens during times of disasters and emergencies, the bill also aims to decongest temporary evacuation centers such as public schools and other facilities.
The proposed law directs the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to take charge of the construction of evacuation centers while local governments are responsible for the operation, supervision, management, and maintenance of structures.
Evacuation centers should be established far from large trees, structures where hazardous materials are used and stored, or high-power voltage lines; It must be located near a health facility, geo-technically stable land to avoid the risk of landslides or exposure to a potential landslide of adjacent lands; and far from military base camps, camps of insurgent groups, power plants, factories, and other areas where the occurrence of human-induced disasters are very high.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is directed to prioritize areas in the country that are disaster-prone, financially incapable of building their evacuation facilities, and those which do not have their centers. (PNA)