SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Classes in public schools don't have to be disrupted whenever calamities, armed conflicts and emergencies occur.
A lawmaker has filed a bill, which seeks to provide for the construction of a multi-purpose gym in all municipalities and cities to serve as evacuation centers during times of calamity or disaster.
Rep. Alfredo D. Vargas III (5th District, Quezon City) explained in House Bill 6487 that it is a common practice to use public schools as evacuation centers during calamities or emergencies.
He said schools, however, are not ideal venues for such purpose because they lack the necessary amenities to accommodate evacuees.
"Furthermore, using schools as evacuation centers bring about another concern: the disruption of the students' academic activities," Vargas said.
The Quezon City solon said classes are severely affected when evacuees cannot immediately vacate school premises.
"This displaces students to makeshift classrooms which may not be conducive to learning," Vargas said.
The Vargas proposal calls for the construction of a multi-purpose gym in every municipality and city throughout the country, which shall serve as a civic center and as an evacuation center for residents during calamities and disasters.
The bill tasks the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to undertake the said construction based on a program prepared by the DPWH in coordination with a representative of the municipality and city concerned.
Likewise, it mandates the DPWH to construction priority to third to sixth class municipalities, especially those located in disaster-prone areas.
Vargas said the proposed evacuation gym must be easily accessible to evacuees and emergency rescue personnel.
Vargas, vice chair of the House Committees on Health and on Social Services, further said the gym must be able to withstand any natural and man-made disasters and must be designed to have space that can be used flexibly for recreational activities and as sleeping quarters during the evacuation.
"The gym must also be well-ventilated, able to accommodate large groups, and must have bathing and toilet amenities," he said.
Vargas said the operation and management of the multi-purpose gym shall be under the office of the municipal or city mayor and that LGUs concerned shall be authorized to issue rules and regulations on the use of the facility and to impose the minimal charges as may be necessary for the maintenance and minimal repairs of the facility.
"The proposed gym will not only effectively address the needs of displaced families in times of emergencies but will allow students to finish their academic calendar without disruption," Vargas said.