Press Release
July 2, 2023

Bong Go renews call for establishment of mandatory evacuation centers nationwide to better protect Filipinos during disasters

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go expressed his deep concern regarding the inadequate facilities available to accommodate calamity victims especially during times of natural disasters, including typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and even fire incidents.

During a recent interview after personally aiding poor residents in Bantay, Ilocos Sur on June 26, he emphasized the urgent need for the establishment of mandatory evacuation centers throughout the country through his proposed Senate Bill No. 193.

"Bill pa po ito. Mayroon po akong nai-file sa Senado, itong Mandatory Evacuation Center. Napansin ko po sa mga bagyo, lindol, pagputok ng bulkan, walang maayos na evacuation center, kawawa ang mga Pilipino," the senator lamented, drawing attention to the challenges faced by affected communities during times of crisis.

Currently, makeshift evacuation centers, such as basketball courts or covered courts, are commonly used, and sometimes schools are repurposed as temporary shelters. This situation often disrupts the education of children and compromises the overall welfare of evacuees.

"Dapat po ay panahon nang magkaroon tayo ng sarili, malinis, maayos na evacuation center. Kaya po ako nag-file sa Senado ng Mandatory Evacuation Center para maitayo sa bawat syudad, munisipyo, at probinsya," Go said, stressing the need for dedicated facilities specifically designed to cater to the needs of displaced individuals and families.

According to the senator, these centers should not only offer adequate space but also prioritize hygiene and sanitation to prevent the spread of diseases and ensure the well-being of evacuees.

"Malinis dapat ang evacuation center, mayroong maayos na sanitation, maayos na higaan hanggang makabalik po ang ating mga kababayan sa kanilang lugar at hindi po maantala ang pag-aaral ng mga bata dahil nagagamit minsan ang mga eskwelahan, ginagawang evacuation center," he said.

Under the proposed measure, the construction of the evacuation centers will be overseen by the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The DPWH will be in charge of constructing the evacuation centers based on standards, issuances, and guidelines set by the DPWH. The DENR, on the other hand, will determine the location of each evacuation center, in close coordination with the local government units concerned.

The minimum requirements for every evacuation center are also specified in the bill. The centers must have amenities and accessibility that will enable them to accommodate a large number of evacuees.

Aside from the measure, Go reiterated his call for the passage of SBN 188 which will establish the Department of Disaster Resilience, centralizing efforts, streamline coordination, and ensure more swift and effective response to emergencies.

If enacted into law, the new department shall concentrate on three key result areas, namely: disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response, and recovery and building forward better.

The Office of Civil Defense has recently voiced its support for the establishment of the DDR, emphasizing the importance of such institution in improving operations in managing and responding to future crises.

"Nabanggit nga kanina, paano natin pagbabawalan doon 'eh coordination lang naman tayo, hindi ho ba? So kailangan po ng mas malakas na kapangyarihan ang Office of Civil Defense, maaaring maging departamento o authority; but it needs legislation," OCD Administrator Ariel Nepomuceno said in a recent interview when asked about evacuation efforts in permanent danger zones near active volcanoes.

"Things can be better if there will be an independent authority or department, but it's not that simple - tanggap po namin iyon... We leave it to Congress and we leave it to the Palace, to Malacañang. Meanwhile, kami naman, we are doing our best given the limitations, makakaasa po kayo," the OCD chief said.

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