House OKs bill creating evacuation centers in every city, municipality

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2023 07:36 PM

MANILA — The House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 7354, establishing evacuation centers in every city and municipality.

According to its congressional fact sheet, the bill establishes an evacuation center in every city and municipality in the country that shall provide immediate and temporary accommodation for people who have been displaced or evacuated from their homes due to disasters, calamities, or other emergency events.

It mandates that existing structures that meet the minimum requirements or those that can be upgraded to serve effectively as evacuation centers may be designated as such in compliance with the local government unit (LGU) concerned.

The bill also mandates the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to construct the evacuation centers, including the formulation of building specifications.

The measure also requires the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), in coordination with the local executives of provinces, cities, and municipalities, to identify areas to be given the highest priority in the establishment of new evacuation centers.

Additionally, the bill mandates the NDRRMC to make a priority list of LGUs that need evacuation centers.

The proposed measure also authorizes an LGU included in the priority list to improve schools or existing structures used as evacuation centers by making these compliant with the minimum requirements such as location and structural capacity, when there is no available site to construct a new evacuation center.

It also designates the LGUs concerned as primarily responsible for the operation, supervision, and management of evacuation centers established.

The bill will also allow the use of the evacuation centers, when it is not used as such, for other activities or purposes that involve the use of collapsible amenities and those that shall not in any way compromise the serviceability of the evacuation center or impede the use thereof when a disaster occurs.

It also authorizes the LGU to impose penalties as may be deemed proper on the organizers of authorized activities when the evacuation center sustains any damage, defacement, or loss during or as a result of such activities.

The measure further mandates the Department of Education to be in charge with the maintenance, repair, and upgrading of the additional facilities of schools that shall be constructed.

It also requires the city or municipality to conduct the mandatory audit of infrastructures used as evacuation centers at least once every year and immediately after the occurrence of a hazard or disaster.

The House is expected to vote on final approval next week.