PAGCOR inaugurates 1st evacuation facility in Northern Samar

Mon| 11.13.2023 | 2:30 PM

PAGCOR inaugurates 1st evacuation facility in Northern SamarHealth workers from Catarman’s various barangays pose for a photo opportunity with officials from PAGCOR and the local government of Catarman.

CATARMAN, Northern Samar – Whenever tropical cyclones or days of incessant rains batter the low-lying communities here, many locals are forced to move to safer grounds, leaving their submerged homes behind.

Thus, as part of its efforts to mitigate the loss of lives in disaster-prone areas, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) on Saturday, November 10, formally inaugurated its first multi-purpose evacuation facility in this province.

The two-story building that cost Php50 million is the biggest evacuation structure to be built in Catarman’s Barangay Polangi, which usually has one of the highest numbers of displaced families whenever natural disasters strike.

Catarman Mayor Francisco Aurelio E. Rosales III expressed his appreciation for the new facility.

PAGCOR inaugurates 1st evacuation facility in Northern SamarBarangay Chairman Joephel Ogayre (5th from right) and barangay community workers express their gratitude to PAGCOR for the newly-built evacuation facility in their village.

“PAGCOR’s evacuation center is an example of how a national government project trickles down to local communities to benefit our entire population. I hope that we can continue to strengthen our partnership with PAGCOR,” he said.

The lack of evacuation facilities in the municipality is one of the major challenges of the local government unit in disaster response, said Catarman Municipal Risk Reduction Officer Emerald Guevarra.

“We have 55 barangays, but we only have ten designated evacuation centers and most of them are schools, chapels and other private establishments. These are not enough because of Catarman’s huge population,” she explained.

PAGCOR inaugurates 1st evacuation facility in Northern SamarPAGCOR Assistant Vice President for Community Relations Eric Balcos (2nd from left) and Catarman Mayor Aurelio Rosales III (3rd from left) lead the ribbon-cutting during the inauguration of the newly-built evacuation facility in Catarman, Northern Samar. Also in photo are Polangi Barangay Chairman Joephel Ogayre (extreme right) and other local officials.

Guevarra said global warming has made disaster response more challenging for the LGU with each passing year.

“Mas matindi yung nararanasan naming weather disturbances. Minsan kahit walang bagyo, basta sunod-sunod ang ulan, umaabot hanggang bubong ng bahay ang baha. Add to the fact that our town is situated in the country’s typhoon belt,” she said.

One of the priorities of the Catarman LGU is the construction of safe shelters where people could stay during dire situations but lack of funding has stalled such efforts.

“This PAGCOR-funded evacuation center here in Barangay Polangi is really a game changer when it comes to the risk mitigation efforts of the Catarman LGU,” Guevarra said. “Now we can cater to a larger population; hindi na din kami mahihirapan dahil may maio-offer na kaming safe at komportableng evacuation facility.”

Aside from the Catarman project, two-story evacuation facilities are also being constructed in the towns of Maslog and Borongan in Eastern Samar, and both have received Php50 million funding each from PAGCOR.

To date, a total of 36 PAGCOR evacuation facilities in various parts of the country have been completed while 36 are still under construction.

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