Duterte wants use of schools as evacuation centers minimized

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to build more evacuation centers to minimize the use of school buildings during typhoons and other calamities.

Duterte made this directive to NDRRMC Executive Director Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad after Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones reiterated her concerns that the use of school buildings as evacuation centers disrupts the flow of classes.

“It’s about time that… General Jalad think of this. Then give me a position paper and I will work on it for the budget,” the President told Jalad during last Thursday’s command conference on Typhoon Ompong at the NDRRMC headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Briones said the use of school buildings forces government educators to hold classes in temporary learning shelters, “which of course exposes them to greater risks.”

“My misgiving, for the longer they (evacuees) stay in the school, the longer would be the disturbance of the education of the children,” Duterte said.

He proposed that evacuation centers should be gymnasium-like buildings made of concrete and iron with at least 10 comfort rooms both for men and women.

“It’s like very simply with strong. I think you have to use the metal iron, just like gym, with longer chairs,” he said.

Jalad reported to the President that many evacuation centers have actually been inaugurated under the stewardship of the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) in different parts of the country.

“We might just have to, you know, rethink the concept sir,” Jalad, also administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, said.

For “Ompong”, Briones said at least 7.7 million school learners will be affected in northern Luzon.

“So we expect 7.7 million learners to be affected by this set of typhoons. So we are also preparing,” she said.

Briones said all the principals and division superintendents have been directed to stay put, particularly during weekend.

“We are in constant touch with them. We have three personnel who are also on 24-hour duty here. So that whatever happens, it’s immediately transmitted to the different schools,” Briones said.

She also instructed them to protect all the learning materials, particularly books and computers.

“We have already pre-positioned, particularly our buffer of the learning materials,” she added.

“Ompong” has maintained its strength as it moves inland toward northern Luzon on Friday, packing winds of 205 km. per hour (kph) and gustiness of 255 kph. It will make landfall in the Cagayan-Isabela area on Saturday morning. PNA-northboundasia.com