Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (File photo)

MANILA – Senator Win Gatchalian said the government should seriously consider constructing permanent disaster-resilient and fully-equipped shelters for evacuees during natural calamities.

“Experience has taught us, like the harrowing super typhoon Yolanda, to rethink our strategies in emergency preparedness and invest in sophisticated early warning systems to mitigate the number of casualties,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian made his call after Super Typhoon Rolly left more than 10 people dead and displaced over 390,000 people particularly in Albay and Catanduanes in Bicol region.

“Typhoons are natural occurrences which allow us ample time to prepare for any eventuality and given the frequency of tropical cyclones in our country yearly, the exigency of having permanent evacuation centers in the most vulnerable communities is something that should be given serious consideration,” he added.

Gatchalian has taken the initiative of filing Senate Bill No. 747 which seeks to establish structurally sound evacuation centers, especially in municipalities and cities prone to typhoons, flooding, and other calamities.

“It’s high time that we put behind the thinking of converting public schools and basketball courts as the go-to places whenever there’s forced evacuation. We should instead put up a facility for evacuees that can withstand wind speeds of 320 kilometers per hour (kph) or 200 miles per hour (mph) and moderate seismic activity of at least 7.2 magnitude,” he stressed.

Fully-equipped and fully operational, Gatchalian said the permanent evacuation centers should also ensure that there will be no congestion as public health and safety concerns should be considered in the suitability of the premises especially during pandemic.

Besides the provision of water and electricity, Gatchalian said these facilities should have the most basic amenities such as sleeping area, eating area, shower and toilet, kitchen and food preparation area, laundry area, clinic and isolation area for potentially infectious people and pet and livestock holding area.

Under the proposed measure, priority will be given to local government units with the most vulnerable communities and with less secure infrastructure based on the assessment of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Gatchalian said it is imperative that strict compliance with the National Building Code of the Philippines is observed and that inputs of structural engineers are integrated into the design and specifications of evacuation centers to ensure that it can withstand climatic and other hazards.

“Bigyan natin ang mga biktima hindi lang ng dignidad kundi kapanatagan ng loob sa gitna ng kinakaharap nilang kalamidad. Dapat masiguro nating nasa maayos na lagay sila. At kung may mga ganitong pasilidad, mas madali natin silang mahikayat na lumikas kung kinakailangan para masiguro ang kanilang kapakanan (Let’s give the victims not only dignity but peace of mind amid calamity. We should make sure that they are safe. And if we have this kind of facilities, we can easily convince them to evacuate if needed for their safety),” he said. (PR)