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Bayan Muna pushes for Evacuation Centers Bill amid Taal eruption

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With the eruption of Taal Volcano, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate reiterated his call on the House leadership to fast track House Bill 5259 or the Evacuation Centers Bill so that victims of calamities would have a secure and safe venue to recover from disasters.

“We have received reports that whole municipalities particularly in Batangas were ordered to evacutae but have nowhere to go because there are not enough evacuation centers,” said the deputy minority leader.

As a result of Taal Volcano’s ongoing eruption, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) earlier ordered the evacuation of residents in five municipalities — namely Talisay, Balete, San Nicolas, Agoncillo, and Laurel.

“At least 8,000 people had to be evacuated from the eruption and it would not do just to place them in schools, multipurpose halls or basketball courts,” Zarate said.

“In our bill,the proposed evacuation centers should be typhoon, earthquake and disaster resistant and have a stockpile of relief goods, so that the victims would be safer and would not be confined in tent cities which are exposed to the elements,” said the progressive solon.

“This is a departure from the common practice of using schools and multi-purpose halls as evacuation centers but are still in danger prone areas,” Zarate noted.

“The evacuation centers proposed by HB 5259 should also be located in between baranggays so that more people can reach them at the soonest time and may also serve as the command center for disaster response,” he added.

“The fact that the Philippines is a country in the Ring of Fire and is also often visited by typhoons yearly, the government has to undertake measures while waiting for the completion of a comprehensive disaster preparedness program and its eventual implementation,” he said.

“We can save lives by ensuring that sturdy and disaster-resilient, climate change-adaptive evacuation centers are located at a distance safe from waters and landslide-prone areas in every two to three contiguous barangays,” Zarate said.