Only 86 classrooms up since ‘Yolanda’ hit
MANILA, Philippines–Nearly a year after Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) ravaged Eastern Visayas, the government has built only 86 of an initial 729 new classrooms planned to replace the over 4,000 rooms damaged or destroyed by the Nov. 8 storm, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) head in Region VIII.
Public Works Director Rolando Asis, however, said Tuesday the agency was on track to complete the targeted classroom construction by the first quarter of 2015.
The school building program is “using over P1.22 billion from the Basic Education Facilities Fund of the Department of Education with counterpart funds of nearly P15.5 million from (state-run) Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.,” or Pagcor.
“The number of classrooms will vary from one to five or six per school building. But the most important thing considered in the construction of these facilities is their design. The structures were designed to be more resistant to typhoons and other natural calamities,” Asis told the Inquirer.
Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson earlier said the “instruction (from Malacañang) was to build back safer and better (public) schools” in storm-hit areas.
“We have been determining what needs to be revised in the design of school buildings. We have been working with Japanese consultants to address the aspects of vulnerability of school buildings to disasters,” Singson said.
The DPWH launched what it called a “structural resiliency program” that aims to upgrade standards of design and construction of public schools, hospitals and other government facilities to help them withstand storms, earthquakes, floods and other disasters.
In a news briefing, Singson had stressed the need to “make public buildings operational and functional in the event of natural disasters.”
“Aside from providing continued public service in times of disaster, these public structures may also serve as temporary evacuation facilities for calamity victims. However, the series of natural disasters that hit the country recently call for making this infrastructure more resilient to the ravages of natural calamities in the future,” he said.
DPWH Region VIII repaired about 700 public schools in time for last June’s opening of classes.
Asis said they “started the repairs sometime in the first quarter, but our work was delayed by the scarcity of good lumber, which we had to buy in Biliran and other Visayas provinces, as well as parts of Mindanao.”
“The GI sheets and other construction materials came from the DPWH head office in Manila. Then there was also the delay in the release of funds,” he said.