Congress has been urged to speed up passage of the Evacuation Center bill that seeks to establish strong and permanent evacuation centers in light of around 25 typhoons that hit the country in a year.
House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list was referring to House Bill (HB) 3648, which, he noted, has been pending for the last four years.
“It would be best to have at least one disaster-resilient evacuation center in every municipality to shelter the population and to avoid what happened during Yolanda where evacuees died in the schools in Tacloban City,” Colmenares said on Monday.
He argued that schools are not designed as safe evacuation centers since these cannot provide for the sanitation and health needs of thousands of evacuees.
When Super Typhoon Yolanda hammered scores of Eastern Visayas provinces last year, it left at least 6,300 people dead and about the same number are still missing.
Considered the hardest hit by the typhoon was Tacloban City, capital of Leyte province.
“The schools’ limited capacity has made many sick and even die of diseases in evacuation centers, especially children. This bill will at least minimize casualties from calamities,” Colmenares said.
Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe earlier warned against use of classrooms as evacuation centers, noting that each classroom is packed with 30 to 60 families, including women and children.
“It is about time that there must be a shift from conveniently using our classrooms as evacuation centers to sending evacuees to permanent evacuation centers and/or sites. As it is, we are creating a new set of evacuees as a result of the displacement of our teachers and students from their respective classrooms,” Batocabe said.
“Putting evacuees in our schools does not only disrupt the educational process. This kind of practice also results in wastage of government funds since once the evacuees return to their respective barangay (villages), the schools have to repair damaged classrooms while alternative learning sites temporarily constructed in campuses can no longer be used,” he added.