Two towns in Isabela receive funding for multi-purpose evacuation centers from PAGCOR

Fri| 6.25.2021 | 3:30 PM

Two towns in Isabela receive funding for multi-purpose evacuation centers from PAGCORPAGCOR’s Asst. Vice President for Community Relations and Services Ramon Stephen Villaflor (3rd from left) and Echague's Vice Mayor Amador Ang Gaffud (2nd from right) lead the groundbreaking of PAGCOR’s covered-court type evacuation center in the town's Barangay San Fabian on June 24, 2021. Also in photo are PAGCOR’s Senior Managers Joaquin Abejar (left) and Maria Eliza Cruz (2nd from left), and Mr. Dante Halaman, head of League of Barangays in Isabela (right).

Two towns in Isabela receive funding for multi-purpose evacuation centers from PAGCORPacita and Bernardo Lustina, who live near Siffu River in Roxas, Isabela, describe how raging waters inundate nearby communities situated along the riverbank, especially during the rainy season.

Two towns in Isabela receive funding for multi-purpose evacuation centers from PAGCORPacita Lustina uses a twig to describe the level of floodwater that inundated their home when the Typhoon Rosita hit the province of Isabela in October 2018. After the incident, Lustina’s family has been regularly moved to evacuation centers as the nearby Siffu River easily swells whenever heavy rains would come.

Two towns in Isabela receive funding for multi-purpose evacuation centers from PAGCORWhile the Siffu River in Roxas, Isabela looks tame during the dry season, it causes immense flooding in nearby communities during the rainy season.

ROXAS, Isabela -- Whenever it rains incessantly, 60-year-old Pacita Lustina from the town's Barangay Rizal, would frantically pack some of her family's belongings to move to safer ground.

When her family's house was submerged in floodwaters during the onslaught of Typhoon Rosita in October 2018, Lustina had been anxious that the Siffu River -- which is a stone's throw away from their house -- could swell during a heavy downpour and cause immense flooding in nearby communities.

"Mabilis lang tumaas ang tubig dito kapag malakas ang ulan at tuwing may bagyo. May phobia na po talaga kami dahil noong nag-bagyong Rosita, halos hanggang bubong ang baha. 'Yung mga gamit namin, napuno ng putik at 'yung iba naman inanod. Ilang araw din kaming naglinis at kahit gabi, naglalaba kami," she recalled.

While Typhoon Rosita in 2018 was one of the worst natural disasters that hit Roxas town, Lustina's family, along with other residents of Barangay Rizal, are regularly moved to temporary shelters during the rainy season.

According to Roxas Mayor Jonathan Jose Calderon, flooding is a perennial problem in their municipality, especially in some barangays that are situated near the stretch of the Siffu River.

"Isa sa malaking challenge na kinakaharap namin dito ang pagbaha kahit walang bagyo, basta malakas ang ulan. Geographically, nasa boundary kasi kami ng Mountain Province at Ifugao. 'Yung tubig mula sa bundok, bumababa dito. Unang binababaan ang municipality namin kaya direct hit din po kami dito," Calderon explained.

During the groundbreaking of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation's (PAGCOR's) two-storey Multi-Purpose Evacuation Center (MPEC) worth P50 million to be built in Roxas town's Barangay Marcos, Calderon was beyond grateful because the building will be able to strategically cater to some of the town's flood-prone areas.

He explained that unlike in the municipality's southern part, which utilizes the astrodome as an evacuation center during calamities, the town's northern part -- which includes communities near the Siffu River -- only uses community centers, barangay halls, and schools as temporary shelters for affected residents.

"With this MPEC Project of PAGCOR, we will be ensured that our kababayans will have a safe place to go. Bukod sa safe, it will be able to withstand strong typhoons and earthquakes kaya napaka-laki nitong kasiguruhan na hindi kami kakaba-kaba kapag may kalamidad," he explained.

Calderon added that PAGCOR's MPEC may also be used as an isolation facility during the pandemic."This will be a totally different type of evacuation center kaya kami ay nagpapa-salamat sa pagkakataon na napili kami ng PAGCOR para mabigyan ng MPEC. Asahan ninyo na magagamit ito 'di lamang para sa evacuation but for other purposes like trainings and seminars. We will make sure that this will be functional," he cited.

Aside from Roxas, PAGCOR also approved the grant of P12.70 million for the municipality of Echague, Isabela for the construction of a covered-court type MPEC in the town's Barangay San Fabian.

Echague's Vice Mayor Amador Ang Gaffud expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR for approving the grant of MPEC project in their municipality.

"This is a time to be grateful. We wish to express our gratitude to PAGCOR for blessing us with an evacuation center that our people can use in times of calamities and emergency situations," said Gaffud, who represented Echague town mayor Francis Faustino Dy during the project's groundbreaking ceremony on June 24, 2021.

With the recent groundbreaking rites of both MPEC projects in Isabela, the state-run gaming agency released a total of P31.35 million, representing the first tranche of funding for said projects.

Likewise, PAGCOR has already released to date a total of P734.25 million as first tranch of funding for the construction of MPECs in 31 sites nationwide.

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