THE 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit northern Luzon last July 27 and flattened houses, buildings, and other structures underscored the need for an evacuation center that affected households can run to and stay in during calamities and natural disasters, Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada said.
“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. 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,” Estrada said in filing Senate Bill No. 465 or the proposed “Multipurpose Gym in All Municipalities and Cities Act of 2022.”
Estrada also said classes are disrupted whenever public schools are used as evacuation centers.
“Multipurpose halls or gyms are better options as evacuation centers because they are more spacious and their use does not interfere with important activities,” he added.
Under SBN 465, Estrada proposed the construction of multipurpose halls or gyms in all cities and municipalities in the country that will serve as civic centers and evacuation house for families during calamities and disasters. Priority will be given to third to sixth-class municipalities, especially those located in disaster-prone areas.
The proposed gym must 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, 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.
“Dapat din na ang mga evacuation center masiguro na kaya nitong ma-withstand ang 7.0 magnitude na lindol gaya ng naranasan ng mga kababayan natin sa Abra,” he added.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security highlighted the importance of passing the bill, noting that a similar measure was also filed during the 18th Congress.
“Huwag natin hayaan na dumating ang ‘the big one’ na maaaring umabot sa 7.2 magnitude ang lindol na hindi tayo handa. 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,” Estrada said.