Duterte pushes for evacuation centers in areas frequented by typhoons

TUGUEGARAO CITY — Hoping to lessen woes and casualties during calamities, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sunday said evacuation centers should be set up in towns and cities frequented by typhoons.

The President, who led the command conference and news briefing here, hatched the idea after an aerial inspection of Typhoon Ompong’s damage in Cagayan Valley, Ilocos and Cordillera regions.

He tasked Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar to conduct a feasibility study on building exclusive or dedicated evacuation centers, saying that the use of schools as temporary shelters during calamities hamper the learning of students.

“It is disruptive to students to always allow evacuees in flood-prone areas as their education is being hampered,” he added.

Most people would always flee to schools whenever typhoons hit the country “because those are the ones big enough to accommodate them,” he lamented.

The gymnasium-like evacuation centers would cater to more evacuees and will not hamper schooling, the President said.

The President had been briefed on preparation, response and actions on “Ompong”, tagged as the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year.

Latest reports from authorities said the number of fatalities increased due to more reported deaths in the Cordillera region.

“I grieve with you for losing your loved ones,” he said, referring to the relatives who had been grieving with the typhoon-related fatalities.

Duterte said he will visit the church building that collapsed in Itogon, Benguet when he visits Cordillera region on Monday to assess the typhoon’s damage.

“There is an evolving story in Itogon, Barangay Ucab, 43 persons doon (there), nag-collapse ‘yung church (a church collapsed),” Duterte said after he was informed about the incident while attending a situation briefing on the effects of “Ompong” here.

Benguet was one of the areas severely-damaged by Ompong which hit northern Luzon on Saturday.

Aside from Tuguegarao City, Duterte also visited Laoag City in Ilocos Norte on Sunday. The President said he will also visit Baguio City and other areas in the Cordillera region. Bill Visaya/PNA-northboundasia.com