Eleazar favors putting up permanent evac centers

Eleazar favors putting up permanent evac centers

By Tracy Cabrera

File photo of evacuees resting inside a gymnasium turned into a temporary evacuation center in Tacloban City during typhoon Hagupit in 2014. (Photo: EPA/Francis Malasig)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, MISAMIS ORIENTAL — According to former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and senatorial aspirant Guillermo Lorenzo Tolentino Eleazar, establishing permanent evacuation centers should become part of the government’s mitigation and preparation policies to ensure the protection and care for victims of calamities such as typhoons, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

Eleazar’s statement came in the wake of the destruction wrought by super typhoon Odette (international name Rai) in the Visayas and Mindanao, which laid to waste several infrastructures, including evacuation centers where affected families and individuals should have fled before and during the height of the extremely inclement weather conditions brought by Odette.

The PNP chief’s remark coincides with a call from Bayan Muna party-list representative Carlos Zarate who urged his counterparts in the Senate to pass a version of the Permanent Evacuation Centers Bill in the aftermath of the recent super typhoon, said to be even stronger than 2013 typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Zarate explained that under House Bill No. 5259, evacuation centers are required to be durable and can withstand earthquakes, typhoons, or any calamities to ensure the protection of victims even as he added that placing victims in schools and multi-purpose halls in calamity-stricken areas, although a common practice, should now be considered only a second option with the establishment of permanent structures for evacuation.

“This practice may still put victims in harm’s way because they are still in the same area,” Zarate pointed out.

For his part, Eleazar, who is running under Partido Reporma led by its standard-bearer Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson and Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III, rationalized that since our country is generally situated in the path of typhoon and other weather disturbances as well as along the so-called ‘rim of fire’ and earthquake belt, it is only practical for the government to be prepared when calamities strike by establishing permanent evacuation centers.

“Kailangan natin ito dahil dito tayo makakasiguro na ang ating mga kababayang nasa mga lugar na kung saan madalas ang bagyo at lindol ay mabibigyan ng tamang proteksyon at pangangalaga,” he stressed while citing the stone houses in Batanes and Babuyan Islands that have been built in answer to the typhoons that regularly visit these areas.

The Partido Reporma senatorial aspirant agreed with lawmakers pushing for the approval of HB 5259 that constructing permanent evacuation centers across the archipelago would benefit more people as it would not only provide protection and temporary shelter but would also give proper care to disaster victims by having its own storeroom for food and water, an isolation area and a clinic while also having its own power generator and cell site in case of power and communication interruptions. (ai/mtvn)

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