LEGAZPI CITY, Albay – Barely a month after a series of destructive typhoons lashed Bicol Region, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) bankrolled the construction of two multi-purpose evacuation centers (MPEC) here to help mitigate the destructive impact of calamities in the province.
The two MPECs, which will be constructed in Bgy. Homapon in Legazpi City and Bgy. Tomolin in Ligao, Albay – each received P50 million funding from PAGCOR.
Each typhoon-resilient evacuation center will have two floors with complete facility, packed room for goods and a spacious badminton-type area on the second floor.
During the groundbreaking ceremony of the two MPECs on December 11, 2020, PAGCOR President and Chief Operating Officer Alfredo Lim underscored the importance of having permanent evacuation centers in the Bicol Region since it is one of the most typhoon-prone areas in the country.
“While Bicolanos are used to these typhoons including the damages to people and properties, it has become evident in the past years that typhoons are becoming increasingly powerful and the people are becoming more vulnerable,” he observed.
Lim added that every time there is a strong typhoon, many locals are brought to packed public school buildings turned into evacuation centers, causing the disruption of classes for several days or weeks.
“Through the MPEC project, many locals in vulnerable communities who could not afford to build typhoon-resilient houses will have a decent place to go to. This permanent evacuation center could help save lives whenever disasters strike,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, who also graced the groundbreaking ceremony in Bgy. Homapon, expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR for including their city in the priority list of areas to receive an MPEC.
“This evacuation center will be a great help to our city. Legazpi is not only located in the typhoon belt; it is also under the constant threat of volcanic eruption, flooding, and landslides because Mayon Volcano remains to be an active volcano. This structure will help us mitigate the impact of disasters in the long term,” he explained.
Ligao City Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua said the MPEC will help them address the needs of Ligao locals who need to be transferred to safer ground during typhoons or volcanic eruptions.
“This PAGCOR MPEC is well-designed and has the technical requirements that are needed in an evacuation center. Sa ngayon kasi, kapag nagi-evacuate kami, kadalasan sa mga residente ay nilalagay sa mga barangay hall at schools. There was even a time when evacuees stayed in the evacuation centers for almost three months because of the Mayon Volcano eruption. So, ‘yung mga estudyante, hindi maibalik sa normal ang klase dahil may gumagamit sa classrooms nila.” she said.
The MPECs to be constructed in Albay are part of the initial P2 billion allocation of PAGCOR for the construction of permanent evacuation centers nationwide. For the first tranche of the project, PAGCOR has initially approved 32 MPECs to be constructed in 31 sites.
Apart from Albay, among other areas to receive MPECs are Aurora, Batangas, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Ilocos Sur, Laguna, Mountain Province, Marikina, Northern Samar, Oriental Mindoro, Pampanga, Quezon, Romblon, Rizal, Southern Leyte, Tarlac and Zamboanga del Sur.