FIVE towns in Cagayan province became the latest recipients of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (PAGCOR’s) Multi-Purpose Evacuation Center (MPEC) project after the agency recently turned over its financial grants to the beneficiaries to formally commence the construction of said structures.
The municipality of Tuao received P25 million – the first tranche of the P50 million funding for the construction of a two-storey MPEC – during the project’s groundbreaking ceremony on October 9, 2021.
The municipalities of Solana, Peñablanca, Iguig and Amulung, meanwhile, received P6.35 million each or the initial funding for the construction of MPECs worth P12.7 million each during separate groundbreaking rites on October 10, 2021.
Tuao Mayor Francisco Mamba said that while they have an existing evacuation facility in the town’s western side, having another one in Tuao East – where the PAGCOR-funded MPEC will be built will assure their people of ample safe spaces during calamities.
“Having an additional emergency facility to house our evacuees in times of calamities is a huge blessing for us. It will enable us to perform our emergency response services more efficiently,” Mamba said.
Solana, the second most populated town in the province, has been in need of permanent emergency shelters for the longest time as most of the residents live in houses made of light materials.
During extreme weather conditions, they are at risk of losing not only their properties but also their lives.
“Kailangang-kailangan talaga ng evacuation infrastructure ng ilang lugar dito sa Solana kasi marami sa mga bahay rito ay gawa sa light materials lang at kapag binabagyo, Signal No. 1 pa lang, naghahanda na kami para maglikas ng mga tao. Kaya’t labis ang aming pasasalamat sa PAGCOR sa pagkakaloob sa amin ng MPEC,” Solana Mayor Jennalyn Carag related.
Glory Tangaro, Barangay Malalam Macabibi village chief added that with the construction of an emergency shelter in Solana, they can now heave a sigh of relief.
“Mawawala na ang pangamba ng mga tao dito sa amin kung saan tutuloy sa mga panahon ng kalamidad. Noong isang taon kasi nagdulot ng mataas na baha ang Bagyong Ulysses. Lampas-tao yung tubig kaya’t lahat ng nakatira sa barangay namin eh napilitang umakyat sa bubong ng kanilang mga bahay at maging sa school namin,” Macabibi narrated.
In the municipality of Amulong, town mayor Elpidio Rendon also expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR for the MPEC to be constructed soon in Amulong East. “Ito po ay pinaka-hihintay talaga namin dahil ang aming bayan ay madalas binibisita ng baha, bagyo at iba pang kalamidad. May masisilungan na ang aming mga kakabayang nasa Amulong East,” he said.
Also, the low-lying town of Iguig, which has been prone to flooding during the rainy season, will receive a one-storey PAGCOR-funded MPEC. “Timing po itong pagbibigay sa amin ng bagong evacuation center. Seven barangays in low-lying areas will greatly benefit from this,” said Iguig Mayor Ferdinand Trinidad.
Meanwhile, the far-flung town of Peñablanca, which sits at the foot of the Sierra Madre, also welcomes the soon-to-rise PAGCOR-funded MPEC. Town Mayor Washington Taguinod said that even in the midst of the pandemic, their town is not spared from extreme weather disturbances. Aside from strong typhoons, he shared that Peñablanca suffers from flooding whenever their rivers overflow due to incessant rains.
Aside from Cagayan, among other areas that already received MPEC funding from PAGCOR were the provinces of Pampanga, Albay, Camarines Sur, Mountain Province, Ilocos Sur, Quezon Province, Zamboanga del Sur, Romblon, Capiz, Samar, Tarlac, Aurora, Bataan, Southern Leyte, Batangas, Laguna, Pangasinan, Isabela, Catanduanes, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Cavite, Laguna, Isabela and Caloocan.
Launched in 2020, PAGCOR’s MPEC project has released a total of P984.65 million for the construction of 44 evacuation centers in various sites nationwide.