Party-list rep wants ‘Evacuation Centers Bill’ fast-tracked

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    BAYAN Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate has called for the passage of House Bill No. 5259 or the “Evacuation Centers Bill” to ensure that victims of calamities will have a secure and safe venue to recover from disasters.

    The militant lawmaker said one lesson the government should learn from the pandemic is the need for a permanent quarantine facility in every locality, “which can also be repurposed or subdivided into if need be.

    “With quarantine facilities for COVID patients occupying the normal evacuation centers in cities and provinces, and the successive battering of typhoons we are now experiencing, the need to fast track House Bill 5259 or the evacuation centers bill becomes more apparent,” he said.

    Zarate lamented that while areas hit by typhoon Quinta were battered by typhoon Rolly, the strongest recorded typhoon for 2020, evacuees are still using basketball courts, schools and churches until now.

    “Even President Duterte has seen the problem himself and vowed to construct more evacuation centers early this year and with this we hope that House Bill 5259 would also be fast tracked. Since after the Super Typhoon Yolanda we have been pushing for the enactment of such a law and we hope that it can be done soon so that the suffering of our disaster struck country would be minimized,” said Zarate.

    Under the bill, the proposed evacuation centers should be typhoon, earthquake and disaster resistant and have a stockpile of relief goods and equipment, “so that the victims would be safer and would not be confined in tent cities which are exposed to the elements.”

    “This is a departure from the common practice of using schools and multi-purpose halls as evacuation centers but are still in danger prone areas. The evacuation centers proposed by HB 5259 should also be located in between barangays so that more people can reach them at the soonest time possible and may also serve as the command center for disaster response,” Zarate said.