Zambo villages urged to construct evacuation centers

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/28 June) – The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) urged every barangay here to have its own evacuation center where residents could seek shelter in times of calamities.

Jose Eric Castillo, OCD-Region 9 officer-in-charge, said Saturday the evacuation center should be a multi-purpose structure so that it can also be used for other activities during normal weather conditions of the year.

Castillo made the pronouncement as he discouraged the use of public school classrooms as evacuation centers.

He said classes “will not be hampered once every barangay has its own evacuation center since schools will no longer be utilized as shelter for evacuees or “bakwits.”

Castillo noted that there are still schools in this city with classes on shifting schedule as families displaced by the September 2013 siege are still occupying some of them.

The siege started when Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members loyal to founding chair Nur Misuari intruded some coastal barangays in this city.

Latest records of the local government showed that there are still 273 families, consisting of 1,445 individuals, staying in three schools namely Zamboanga East Central School, Talon-Talon Elementary School and Don Gregorio Evangelista Memorial School in Barangay Sta. Catalina.

Castillo said it is also important for every barangay to have its own evacuation center as the residents will not need to travel far to seek refuge in times of calamities.

He said the residents will be exposed to dangers while moving to an evacuation center located far from the community.

Castillo said the evacuation center must be constructed in a safe area and should be in accordance to plans and specifications to ensure the protection of the evacuees.

He said the funding for the construction of an evacuation center can be taken from the five percent budget of the barangay. (MindaNews)