Press Release
July 6, 2019

Bill filed on 1 town, 1 evacuation center 'na hindi lang pang-sports, pang-disaster pa'

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has built 82 evacuation centers in 52 provinces and 55 more are underway, drawing praise from a senator who also suggested that it be expanded into a "one town, one evacuation center" program.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto likewise urged the DPWH to explore designs other than the limited-capacity dormitories it is building to include gymnasiums that can have multiple uses during ordinary days, but can transform into a safe refuge for hundreds when disaster strikes.

Recto has refiled a bill institutionalizing this kind of public infrastructure "which a country visited by two dozen typhoons a year, one that sits atop the volcanic Ring of Fire, and whose cities submerged during the monsoon months needs."

As women, children and elderly comprise the bulk of those displaced by natural and man-made calamities, like fire, Recto said the "gyms-cum-evacuation centers" will be equipped with toilet facilities and a clinic area.

He added that these centers can be designed so that it can house town libraries, making them youth centers where they can study and play-"activities they can do even when they are temporarily displaced from their homes."

Recto said government will have value-for-money in designing multi-use gyms, "na hindi lang pang sports, pang disaster pa. Kung evacuation time, pwedeng lagyan ng easy-to-install modular cubicles, para bawat pamilya may privacy."

The sports-cum-evacuation center, he explained, "addresses both the shortage of sports facilities in towns and the need for a disaster-resilient building people can seek shelter in during calamities."

Such a multi-purpose civic center can host day or night community events, but when calamity strikes, could take in evacuees, Recto explained.

"But if there's one reason why we should put them up is that they will prevent schools from becoming default evacuation sites during calamities, a practice which turns students into displaced persons, when their learning is disrupted," Recto said.

In conflict areas, the "forced vacation" of children whose schools are used to house refugees "is coterminous with the length of fighting," he lamented.

Recto said the gym-cum-evacuation center should serve as the office and the equipment depot of the local disaster response and mitigation team.

Recto said gyms must be able to withstand 300 kilometer per hour winds and an intensity 8 earthquake.

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