Solon insists on permanent evacuation centers as Mayon remains restive
MANILA, Philippines — Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co reiterated on Tuesday his call for establishing permanent evacuation centers, citing as a case in point the plight of 20,000 Albay residents who still could not return home due with Alert Level 3 still raised over areas near restive Mayon Volcano.
In a statement, Co said the residents of Malilipot town in Albay need a permanent evacuation facility to avoid problems that may crop up at makeshift evacuation centers.
As of this writing, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has kept Mayon at Alert Level 3 as it sees no signs to justify lowering it.
“The residents of Malilipot deserve a dedicated evacuation facility that can provide a safe and conducive environment during times of calamity,” Co said.
“As the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, I am determined to work towards securing the necessary resources and funding to make this vision a reality. Our aim is to ensure the well-being and continuity of education for the affected youth, as they are the future of our community.”
Co said this as another Ako Bicol lawmaker, Rep. Raul Angelo Bongalon, had gone to Malilipot for a medical mission – called the Tarabangan Caravan — for evacuees at a temporary shelter at the San Juan Jose Elementary School and those in nearby barangays.
The medical services provided by the misson Caravan would include general consultations, distribution of prescribed medications, and health education.
“It is our responsibility to provide immediate medical assistance to our fellow Bicolanos in their time of need. The Tarabangan Caravan aims to bridge the gap by ensuring that essential healthcare services reach the evacuation centers, addressing the medical needs of the affected individuals and families,” Bongalon said.
Health problems are a common concern in evacuation centers, especially if residents are going through a prolonged stay due to natural or man-made calamities.
Just last Friday, the Bicol regional office of the Department of Health (DOH) heightened its monitoring of Mayon evacuees after two individuals tested positive for COVID-19.
According to DOH Regional Director Dr. Ernie Vera, they are expecting an increase in the number of evacuees contracting diseases because of the crowded situation and intense heat in the facilities.
“We don’t want to have an abnormal increase in cases in evacuation centers because we know it’s basically preventable,” Vera said.
On Wednesday, the DOH reported that a 12-year-old boy who evacuated from Daraga town tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed to an 82-year-old woman who had contracted the disease. The woman tested positive through an RT-PCR test.
Last June 19, Co and Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda asked the Senate to pass a bill that would create permanent evacuation centers.
Under House Bill No. 7354, which has been approved on third and final reading, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and local chief executives would be directed to identify priority areas that need evacuation centers.
The NDRRMC will also work with the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Science and Technology to design and construct disaster-proof evacuation centers.
At the Senate, there are at least six similar measures, but all are pending at the committee level. The Senate can resume deliberating the measures only after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s State of the Nation Address on July 24 — when Congress resumes session.