AFTER bankrolling the construction of two evacuation centers in Albay last December 2020, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has approved yet again the construction of four evacuation centers in the Bicol Region.
The typhoon-prone municipalities of Ocampo, Tigaon, San Jose, and Sagñay in Camarines Sur are the latest beneficiaries of two-storey typhoon-resilient Multi-purpose Evacuation Centers (MPEC) that can withstand heavy rains and ferocious wind velocity of up to 340 kilometers per hour.
With a budget of P50 million each, PAGCOR earmarked P200 million for the construction of the four MPECs in Camarines Sur, which are expected to be completed within a year.
Of the P200 million earmarked funds for the four Camarines Sur MPECs, P100 million was already released to the beneficiary LGUs on January 8, 2021 to fastrack the construction of said facilities.
PAGCOR President and Chief Operating Officer Alfredo Lim said “the beneficiary LGUs will be given the responsibility to ensure that the MPECs will be built based on planned specifications.”
Among the key features of the MPECs are the provision for kitchen area, storage areas for relief goods, toilet and shower rooms for male and female, lactating rooms for nursing mothers, and a spacious badminton-court type area that may be used for sports events and other purposes such as trainings when it is not being used as an evacuation site.
Lim, who has been spearheading the groundbreaking of MPECs in the Bicol Region, underscores the importance of providing locals — who are living in typhoon-prone communities — with a safe place to stay whenever strong typhoons batter the country.
“Because of climate change, typhoons are getting stronger every year. However, not everyone has the capacity to build typhoon-resilient houses. Hence, most of the time, people go to public classrooms to seek temporary shelter, causing disruption in the students’ daily classes,” he said.
“With PAGCOR’s MPEC project, we can provide a safe, sturdy and comfortable shelter to our less privileged kababayans, at the same time, we can help avoid the disruption of classes,” Lim added.
Meanwhile, the local chief executives of Ocampo, Tigaon, San Jose, and Sagñayexpressed their gratitude to PAGCOR for the aid that the state-gaming agency has accorded to their municipalities.
“Our town is in the path of typhoons. Just November last year, we experienced three typhoons in a matter of 17 days. Maswerte na lang kami dahil zero casualty sa aming bayan. Pero halos nasa 3,000 na bahay ang nasira at maraming kabuhayan ang naapektuhan. With this soon to be constructed evacuation center from PAGCOR, we can ensure the safety of our constituents,” said Tigaon Mayor Pamela Rinah Fuentebella.
PAGCOR has initially allocated P2 billion for the MPEC project. In the Bicol Region alone, the state-run gaming agency has already allocated P300 million for the construction of six MPECs in Albay and Camarines Sur. Of this amount, P150 million has already been released to the beneficiary LGUs.
Aside from Albay and Camarines Sur, PAGCOR has also initially released the first tranche of MPEC funding for San Fernando and Floridablanca in Pampanga, bringing to eight the number of MPEC sites that recently received funding from the state-run gaming firm.