July 20, 2024

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House approves measure setting up a nationwide evacuation center in every town   

Photo courtesy: Casiguran page

The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading House Bill (HB) No. 7354, a measure for the setting up of nationwide evacuation centers in every town.

Aside from providing immediate protection to persons affected by typhoons or earthquakes, evacuation centers can also be used to temporarily shelter victims of fire, disease outbreaks, and other emergencies.

House Bill (HB) No. 7354 was approved during Monday’s plenary session with 307 lawmakers voting in favor and one against.

HB 7354 provides: “It shall be the policy of the State to uphold the constitutional right of the people for the protection of their life and property and the promotion of the general welfare. Toward this end, the State shall establish and maintain a safe, fully equipped, and fully operational evacuation center, responsive to environmental or climatic events, in recognition of the vulnerability of the Philippines to climate change and hazards such as the occurrence of severe floods, typhoons and other natural or human-induced disasters, illnesses, diseases and other factors that affect the environment.”

The proposed measure will task the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and local chief executives to identify areas to be prioritized in establishing evacuation centers.

HB 7354 also tasks the NDRRMC to work with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on the design, cost estimates, and construction of the evacuation centers.

It provides that existing structures, which meet the minimum requirements in terms of location, structural capacity, amenities, and accessibility or can be upgraded can be designated as evacuation centers according to the needs of the local government unit concerned.

The local governments will be responsible for the operation and management of the evacuation centers, which will be constructed and funded by the DPWH.

Almost the same measure was filed last year by progressive lawmakers from the Makabayan Bloc, House Bill 5152 or the Permanent Evacuation Centers in Every City and Municipality Bill. During the 18th congress the proposed measure passed on third and final reading but the senate failed to create its own version of the bill.