Construction of PAGCOR-funded evacuation facility in Davao De Oro town begins

NEW BATAAN, Davao de Oro — Even before typhoons and heavy rainfall would ravage their community, 73-year-old cacao pruner Estrella Alonzo had already prepared her family’s go-bags in case they need to move to safer ground.

Having lost their family’s tiny shack to Typhoon Agaton in 2012 and Tropical Storm Agaton in April 2022, Alonzo now lives with one of her children, whose house is also easily submerged in flood whenever the nearby dam and river swell due to incessant rains.

But since the local government of New Bataan lacks sufficient evacuation facilities for families in flood-prone communities, locals like Alonzo often sought shelter in their neighbors’ vacant houses. “Nag-e-evacuate kami pero sobrang hirap. Di ka makasaing dahil basa sa ulan ang mga kahoy na panggatong. Mahirap ang tubig kasi doon kami kumukuha sa reservoir at kailangan naming dumaan sa baha para makakuha ng malinis na tubig,” Alonzo shared.

On 11 August 2022, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) gave hope to the residents of New Bataan after the agency formally kickstarted the construction of a two-storey Multi-Purpose Evacuation (MPEC) facility in the town’s Barangay Panag, which the state-run gaming firm funded.

New Bataan Mayor Geraldford Balbin said the soon-to-rise PAGCOR MPEC is an answered prayer because while they have dreamt of building a spacious evacuation facility for locals in low-lying and flood-prone communities, they do not have enough funds for such project.

“Ang aming Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council ay trained na mag-evacuate ng mga residente mula sa mga delikadong lugar. Pero dahil wala kaming mga evacuation center, doon sila madalas sa mga gym, classrooms, o sa mga kapamilya nilang nasa mataas na lugar. Pero ngayon sa tulong PAGCOR, kapag matapos itong evacuation center, may mapupuntahan na silang lugar na maayos,” he said.

Emily Larita, Chairman of Purok 11 in Barangay Panag said they are elated that the PAGCOR evacuation center will be built in their barangay.

“Kapag orange warning na ang ulan dito, pinapalikas na namin ang mga residente. Pero hindi kami maka-evacuate sa malapit na eskwelahan kasi may malaking ilog malapit doon na nag-o-overflow. Kaya diyan na lang kami sa bundok. May isang bahay diyan na pwedeng puntahan pero kaunti lang yung pwede kaya ‘yung iba, nagti-tent. Pero kapag malakas ang hangin, wala din. Basa din lahat. Itong PAGCOR evacuation center, malaking tulong sa amin kasi kapag nag-e-evacuate kami, pagkain at damit na good for three days na lang ang dadalhin namin. Di na namin kailangan magdala ng tent sa bundok,” she narrated.

PAGCOR’s Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility Group Ramon Stephen Villaflor, who graced the groundbreaking of the P50 million worth MPEC in New Bataan, said the evacuees’ comfort and safety were the top considerations when the blueprint of PAGCOR MPEC project was finalized.

“This evacuation facility that will soon rise in New Bataan has provisions for kitchen, storage areas for relief goods, toilet and shower rooms for male and female, lactating rooms for nursing mothers, and a spacious area that may be used for sports events and other purposes such as trainings when it is not being used as an evacuation site,” he said.

PAGCOR has allotted a total of P3.5 billion for the construction of MPECs in 77 sites nationwide. Of this amount, P2.099 billion was already released to recipient local government units. To date, a total of 15 evacuation facilities were completed in various parts of the country including those in the provinces of Pangasinan, Aurora, Pampanga, Tarlac, Quezon, Albay, Camarines Sur, and Capiz.




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