ILOILO City – The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has opened a P32-million evacuation center in Barangay Gines, Zarraga, Iloilo yesterday.
Zarraga and neighboring towns may use the center in times of disasters, according to Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana who led the turnover to the local government unit of the host municipality.
The center is newest addition to the five others that OCD already completed for Western Visayas – in Barangay Tigayon, Kalibo, Aklan; Barangay San Pedro, San Jose, Antique; Barangay Cabuguana, Carles, Iloilo; Barangay Lag-asan, Bago City; and Barangay 2, San Carlos City.
“The government is constructing evacuation centers all over the country due to the increasing frequency and strength of natural disasters. Why is that so? Because of climate change, global warming,” said Lorenzana.
He also acknowledged the concern expressed by the Department of Education (DepEd) over class disruptions every time schools are used as evacuation centers.
OCD is building five more in Barangay Milibili, Roxas City; Barangay Igtambo, San Miguel, Iloilo; Barangay Tab-ao, Sagay City, Negros Occidental; Barrio Vista Alegre, Bacolod City; and Nueva Valencia, Guimaras.
The evacuation centers cost between P34 million to P36 million each and built on 2,610-square meter lot. Each has the following features:
* accommodation building good for 33 families with beds, and 130 persons without beds
* offices for the OCD and local disaster risk reduction and management council
* infirmary and pharmacy
* separate toilets and bathrooms for males, females and persons with disabilities
* laundry and drying facility with water
* power generator room and pump room
* garbage disposal building
* storage room which can be converted into a child-friendly learning space
Lorenzana said the evacuation centers may also be used by host local government units for trainings.
According to Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Dr. Jerry Bionat recently, each local government unit having its own evacuation center is the most ideal.
In Iloilo province which has 42 towns and one component city, only six managed to construct their own evacuation centers – Estancia, Balasan, Banate, Oton, Dueñas, and Pototan.
During calamities such as typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and fires when people are displaced, schools are usually used as temporary evacuation centers.
“Kay ti naandan naton nga evacuation center amo ang mga eskwelahan,” said Bionat.
This practice, however, is disadvantageous to schoolchildren whose classes get disrupted, he said.
Also, this takes a toll on school facilities, Bionat added.
But the PDRRMO chief said the evacuation centers of the local governments may be erected in schools so that these may also be used by the host schools when not utilized by evacuees.
In the case of Estancia, Balasan, Banate, Oton, Dueñas, and Pototan, their evacuation centers were jointly funded by their local government units and the Department of Interior and Local Government, said Bionat.
But while LGUs are encouraged to building their own evacuation centers, Bionat said the PDRRMO itself has proposed that the provincial government establish one in each of the six districts./PN