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Multi-purpose gyms to serve as evacuation centers urged

WITH an average of 20 typhoons hitting the Philippines yearly, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas on Friday said it is high time for each community to have a disaster-proof, multi-purpose gym where they can evacuate in times of calamities.

House Bill (HB) 1403 or the proposed “Multi-Purpose Gym in All Municipalities and Cities Act” sets the minimum standards for the construction of multi-purpose gyms to ensure they can withstand strong typhoons and earthquakes.

Vargas said the practice of using schools as evacuation centers is not ideal because it disrupts educational activities and they sometimes lack the necessary facilities to accommodate evacuees.

“Evacuation centers should be well ventilated, have bathing and toilet facilities, and able to accommodate large groups of people,” Vargas said.

He saw the need to have more disaster-proof gyms due after knowing first-hand about its usefulness in his district.

“The multi-purpose gym at Quezon City’s fifth district serves as temporary shelter of residents whenever there are strong rains. Ginawa natin itong disaster-proof, kaya alam nating ligtas sila dito,” Vargas said.

Under HB 1403, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will be in charge of constructing typhoon-resistant, multi-purpose gyms in each municipality and city. Priority shall be given to third to sixth class municipalities, especially those located in disaster-prone areas.

DPWH will coordinate with the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to determine which disaster-prone areas should be prioritized in the construction of multi-purpose gyms.

The multi-purpose gyms should be located at an area safe from hazards identified by the local government unit in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

They must be built to withstand wind speeds of at least 155 miles per hour and a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

The DPWH will come up with the building specifications for the multi-purpose gyms and ensure these are complied with during construction.

The multi-purpose gym should have an isolation area that can be used as a clinic, as well adequate shower and toilet facilities. Its floor area must also be free from permanent fixtures to accommodate evacuees.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight