Jinggoy Estrada wants ‘multipurpose’ gyms as disaster evacuation centers

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Jinggoy Estrada has filed a bill seeking to build multipurpose halls or gyms in all cities and municipalities nationwide that will also serve as evacuation centers during disasters.

In a statement on Saturday, Estrada said the filing of Senate Bill No. 465 is most timely following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit the province of Abra on Wednesday.

“Dapat ay mayroon na talagang designated na permanent na evacuation centers, mga disaster-resilient safe structures na maasahan sa bawat munisipyo at mga lungsod sa tuwing may kalamidad,” said Estrada.

(There should be designated permanent evacuation centers, disaster-resilient safe structures that can be relied upon in every municipality and city whenever there is a disaster.)

“Hindi na uubra ang mga public school buildings na kadalasang sinisilungan ng ating mga kababayan dahil sa maging mga ito ay apektado rin at nasira ng lindol,” he added.

(The public school buildings that are usually sheltered by our compatriots will no longer work because they are also affected and damaged by the earthquake.)

Under the bill, multipurpose halls or gyms will be constructed in each city and municipality nationwide to serve as civic centers and evacuation houses for families during calamities and disasters.

Third to sixth class municipalities and those located in disaster-prone areas will be prioritized in the creation of such gyms, said Estrada.

The multipurpose gym must also be accessible to evacuees and to emergency rescue personnel and must likewise be able to withstand wind speeds of at least 155 miles per hour.

It must also be well-ventilated, and have amenities like shower and toilet, as well as an isolated area that can be used as a clinic for those needing medical attention.

Estrada added that the multipurpose gyms must also be able to survive strong earthquakes like the recent Abra quake.

“Huwag natin hayaan na dumating ang ‘the big one’ na maaaring umabot sa 7.2 magnitude ang lindol na hindi tayo handa,” said Estrada.

(Let’s not wait for ‘the big one’ that could reach a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that we are not prepared for.)

“Dapat isaalang-alang natin sa ating kahandaan ang mga ganitong mga istraktura nang sa gayon ay mabigyan ng dignidad ang mga biktima ng kalamidad at maayos na masisilungan,” he added.

(We must consider in our preparedness such structures so that disaster victims can be given dignity and properly sheltered.)

Similar bill filed in 18th Congress

It can be recalled that Senator Bong Go also filed a similar bill in 2019, Senate Bill No. 1228, otherwise known as the “Mandatory Evacuation Center Act.”  Go’s bill also aims to ensure that those displaced by disasters will be given shelter.

Go’s measure set the minimum requirements for every evacuation center, such as its location, amenities, and standard operating procedure, among others.

In Go’s bill, evacuation centers must be built and engineered, in particular, to survive super typhoons, winds of at least 300 kph, and seismic activity of at least magnitude 8.0.

Based on the latest situation report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (NDRRMC), over 200,000 people were affected by the earthquake in Abra.

Of this, 6,176 families or 1,910 families are now in 46 evacuation centers, while 27,207 individuals or 6,490 families are not in evacuation centers. Zacarian Sarao/Inquirer