Permanent, resilient evacuation centers in Albay towns urged
By Celso Amo LEGAZPI CITY --- Secretary Francis Tolentino, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs and Mayon Crisis Manager, urged members of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council(RDRRMC) to work together to put up climate change resilient evacuation centers. “Bicol RDRRMC can take advantage of President Duterte’s build, build infrastructure strategy,” said Tolentino during a recent forum at the PNP Officer’s conference room here. He also said that President Duterte has a standing order to put up resilient evacuation centers on the east coast. Tolentino to the surprise of the participants said that the Department of Interior and Local Government(DILG) has a program with acronym BRACES to put up permanent evacuation centers in the barangay. “BRACES has a total funding of P3B and the barangays can receive as much as P220 to P4M or P300 to P6M to put up these structures,” said Tolentino. The DILG can work with the Department of Public Works and Highways(DPWH) to construct these structures. Also, the DPWH has another project called Regional Evacuation Center Project with funding ranging from P30M to P60M. The DPWH is going to put up eight evacuation centers in Bicol while the sites will be provided by the local government units. The DPWH had coordination with the local government of Libon and Camarines Sur regarding the matter, it was learned. “At present, the National Housing Authority and the Department of Public Works are coordinating to come up with an agreed design,” Tolentino said. Tolentino showed the different evacuation designs to the participants in a presentation. Cedric Daep, Albay Provincial Security and Emergency Management Office(APSEMO), said the permanent evacuation centers should be able to withstand a typhoon’s 220kph maximum winds and 8 magnitude earthquake. Participants during the forum talked about the impact of the recent downgrading of Mayon Volcano’s alert level from 4 to 3. They wanted to give priority to the construction of the permanent evacuation centers outside school compounds so as not to disrupt classes, including relocation of those who are staying inside the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone sites for those affected by Mayon Volcano’s eruption. Estimates at the Albay Provincial Security and Emergency Management Office(APSEMO) place those residing inside the permanent danger zone at 2,898 families. Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal also said that resilient evacuation sites for climate change adaptation had already been constructed in Albay through the Japanese International Cooperative Agency(JICA) in 2014. “The JICA permanent evacuation centers could have been constructed outside the school compound,” Rosal said. The JICA resilient evacuation center in this city was constructed inside Gogon Elementary School compound. Rosal urged other mayors of Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Bacacay, Malilipot, Sto. Domingo and the cities of Ligao and Tabaco to start scouting for lots to be purchased later on. Rosal said he is going to purchase 20 hectares to 30 hectares of land in Barangay Homapon for the city’s permanent evacuation site. Wanted: Sites for evacuation centers “With this permanent evacuation site, classes will not be disrupted whenever Mayon Volcano erupts four to five years from now,” said Rosal. “Let us buy these lots now while they are still cheap,” said Rosal who had to find the lots outside the city proper because of the rising price of real estate property. Guinobatan Mayor Jemma Ann Ongjoco said the municipal government is going to put up a permanent relocation site for the villagers in Barangay Maninila and Tandarora and Masarawag located at the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone. “We already have an initial coordination with the National Housing Authority for the permanent evacuation site,” Ongjoco disclosed. She said Barangay Maninila is located inside the 8- to 9-kilometer zone from the slope of Mayon Volcano and some 484 families or 1,658 persons are now staying at the evacuation center in East Guinobatan Elementary School while Barangay Masarawag is located from 6km to 9km from the volcano’s slope and 389 families or 1,364 persons are staying at the Guinobatan West Central School. Barangay Tandarora is a high risk area for lahar from Lower Masarawag River. The proposed permanent relocation site has a total of 10.9 hectares located in Barangay Mauraro and Barangay San Jose, all in Guinobatan town, Ongjoco added. “We want the NHA to construct houses inside these lots so that those living in high risk areas can be relocated,” she said. These three barangays are also a risk to lahar when there’s prolonged and sustained rainfall, the lady mayor added. “We want this project to start within a year by the NHA,” Ongjoco said . The AKO Bicol partylist representatives promised to provide P100M funding for the city’s permanent evacuation site. Senators JB Ejercito, Nancy Binay, Win Gatchalian, Mig Zubiri, Joel Villanueva and Juan Edgardo Angara promised to provide P10M funding each, Rosal said. JICA and AICID permanent evacuation centers In March 2014, Albay received P450M in grants from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the construction of six permanent evacuation centers in the towns of Manito, Sto. Domingo, Oas, Polangui, Libon and Legazpi City to house people displaced by disasters in the province. The six evacuation shelter projects of JICA in Albay are two-story buildings, typhoon and earthquake resistant using advanced Japanese technology, and passed the geo-hazard survey. The centers were built in areas prone to landslides (Manito), flooding (Oas, Polangui, Libon) and lahar or mud flows (Sto. Domingo, Legazpi City) at a cost of P75 M each. The permanent evacuation centers would help ease the pressure on public schools that are used as temporary evacuation camps in these high-risk areas in times of storms and other severe weather events. During good weather, the permanent evacuation centers could be converted into 10-classroom type school buildings. In Japan, school facilities are used and designated as disaster evacuation shelters. The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) in 2012 also funded the construction of four evacuation buildings which could be converted into classrooms in Camalig North Central School in Camalig town, Travesia Central School in Guinobatan town, Ligao West Central Elementary School in Ligao City and in Daraga where the evacuation building was constructed at the second floor of the public market. Tolentino also said that close to P400M has been provided so far since affected residents were sent to evacuation centers in the middle part of January this year.