CAMP Aguinaldo, which houses the Department of National Defense and the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will serve as temporary shelter to thousands of evacuees from typhoon-hit areas in the Visayas on orders of Malacanang, a military spokesman said on Thursday.
According to Air Force spokesman Col. Miguel Okol, those who were seeking shelter in the so-called “tent city” inside the Villamor Airbase will be relocated to their main camp in Quezon City to facilitate their reunion with their families in Metro Manila and elsewhere under “Oplan Yakap” and “Oplan Hatid”.
“We are still ready to receive arriving evacuees [and]it’s continuous. It’s just a transition operation to Camp Aguinaldo for better coordination with other agencies as directed by our national leadership,” he said.
Okol said Villamor Air Base is too small to accommodate the growing number of survivors. He said there are now 1,700 evacuees as of last count.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. explained that the idea was
to first provide food and water to those coming from the “calamity zone” and have them transferred to Camp Aguinaldo.
“Ang DSWD at ang Philippine Air Force ay nagtutulungan at nag-uugnayan para tiyakin iyong mahusay na pagdaloy ng operasyon ng dalawang programang ito,” Coloma said during his regular press briefing.
He said that Camp Aguinaldo is an ideal place to house the evacuees because of its proximity to bus terminals in Cubao.
“Upon their arrival at Villamor Airbase, they are provided with food and water before being transported to Camp Aguinaldo,” he added.
For his part, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office, said that the evacuees would be given space inside the National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) ground.
“They will be confined in the area, meaning they will not be allowed to roam or go anywhere else inside Camp Aguinaldo,” Zagala said.
The NCRCom compound is near the camp’s Gate 6 entrance, which is specifically designated for vehicles without military pass cards.
Coloma called on private relief organizations to coordinate with the Joint Task Force NCR command center in Camp Aguinaldo to ensure a more efficient flow of assistance to “internally-displaced persons.”
He also pointed out that they will provide space to the evacuees but all their other concerns would be handled by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Meanwhile, in Manila, officials have set up all-in evacuation centers to accommodate at least 6,000 displaced people.
Rep. Benjamin Asilo of Manila made the announcement on Thursday, noting that the displaced persons can stay in evacuation centers in Del Pan and Baseco in Tondo.
The Del Pan Evacuation Center is a four-storey building on a 4,000 square meter lot which is the first centralized evacuation center in the country. The Baseco Evacuation Center, on the other hand, is the bigger version of the Del Pan Evacuation Center.
Both centers can house 6,000 individuals and are equipped with 18 rooms and 15 comfort rooms, with three restrooms each for the exclusive use of disabled persons.
Likewise, the evacuation centers are equipped with clinics, central kitchens, stock rooms, paging system rooms, close circuit television cameras, laundry areas, an office for disaster and social welfare personnel, as well as elevator for persons with disabilities, pregnant women and senior citizens.
In addition, both centers have their own electric generator in case of power failure.
“This is to respond to the need of the victims of the typhoon Yolanda from the Eastern and Central Visayas. The Manila Evacuation Centers can serve as temporary shelters of the displaced. The senior citizens, disabled, sickly, pregnant women, children and all those needing special care and attention will be given preference to stay in the said centers,” Asilo said.
“These sectors need to be separated from those lodged in the tent cities where they will be more vulnerable,” Asilo, chairman of the House Committee on People’s Participation, added.