Senate bill eyeing malls, private buildings as evacuation centers
MANILA, Philippines – Following Taal Volcano’s eruption that displaced thousands in Batangas and Cavite, Senator Francis Tolentino has filed a bill granting local government units (LGUs) the power to occupy or use private or commercial buildings, like restaurants or shopping malls, as evacuation centers.
Senate Bill No. 1272 seeks to expand the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 to empower LGUs in preparing for and responding to natural disasters by facilitating a more detailed coordination framework local governments.
“The current framework does not cover a comprehensive action plan for LGUs with regard to evacuation and post-recovery operations, which should be at the heart of the country’s disaster response policy,” Tolentino said in a statement on Tuesday.
The measure grants affected LGUs the power to occupy or use private or commercial buildings, such as, but not limited to schools, shopping malls, restaurants, or warehouses, as evacuation centers or safe zones.
“Payment, from the local government unit or the national government in case of incapacity of the former, for the use of such private institutions shall be made after such use,” the bill noted.
The bill also seeks the creation of an inter-local government unit response mechanism, which would include the identification and creation of permanent evacuation centers, safe refuge zones, evacuation routes and assembly points.
It is likewise aimed at providing transportation and accommodation during evacuation for persons and animals.
“Being the first responder, our LGUs must be fully equipped not just with proper training, but also a comprehensive plan that they will use in case of emergency cases like the sudden eruption of Taal Volcano which caught everyone by surprise,” Tolentino said.
The senator cited the 2019 Global Climate Risk Index which showed that the Philippines ranked fifth among countries in the world with the highest weather-related losses amounting to US$2.932 billion.
“The State must exert all efforts to address against calamities, both natural and man-made, to save not only lives of the citizens in disaster-stricken areas but that of the future generations,” Tolentino said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.