NDRRMC opens Cordillera regional evacuation center

Mae Cornes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 05 2019 04:14 PM | Updated as of Apr 06 2019 03:13 PM

The Regional Evacuation Center in La Trinidad, Benguet can accommodate 33 families. Mae Cornes, ABS-CBN News

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet (UPDATE) – The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Wednesday formally opened a regional evacuation center (REC) here, the first of six such facilities planned in the Cordilleras. 

The REC was built on a 3,000-sqm lot for P34 million. 

Janet Armas, Regional Director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Cordillera Administrative Region (DSWD-CAR), said the new evacuation center is a welcome alternative as barangay halls and schools are usually used to house displaced families in times of disaster. 

“'Pag nakalagay sa school, hindi makapasok 'yung mga bata and ang gusto natin kahit may bagyo sana ‘di ma-stop ang school ng mga bata, 'yun ang request ng parents. Even DepEd (Department of Education) kung puwede mag-identify ng evacuation [center] na may privacy and they can still function as a family,” said Armas. 

(If you use a school as an evacuation center, students cannot come to class and what we want is that even when there's a storm, classes won't stop, that's the request of parents. Even DepEd requested that there should be an evacuation center where there's privacy and [evacuees] can still function as a family.)

The facility can accommodate 33 families at a time. It has common shower and laundry areas.

“Nakikita natin na ikumpara natin sa experience sa Lawin at Ompong, matindi 'yung epekto nung Typhoon Ompong…’Yan ang nagsasabi na seryosohin natin ang preparedness natin,” said Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.

(Typhoon Ompong had greater impact compared to Lawin. That served as an indication that we should take preparedness measures seriously.)

Typhoon Ompong devastated northern Luzon in September last year, some two years since Super Typhoon Lawin's lashing. 

The newly-opened facility is just one of six RECs being built in the Cordilleras, where typhoons usually trigger landslides and flooding. 

Two are still under construction in Kalinga, one in Mt. Province, one in Ifugao and one in Abra.

According to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-CAR), the implementing arm of the NDRRMC, building evacuation centers in the upland region is difficult.

“Requirement is 3,000 sqm… the mere area ng space mahirap kunin dito, hirap talaga, we had to change the design, adjust the building to suit the lot,” said Engr. Tiburcio Canlas, Regional Director, DPWH-CAR.

(The mere space- the requirement is 3,000 sqm- is already hard to find here. We had to change the design, adjust the building to suit the lot.) 

The DPWH hopes to complete the other RECs by June, before the rainy season kicks in.