Three municipalities in the province of Cagayan became the latest beneficiaries of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s multi-purpose evacuation center (MPEC) project after the state-run gaming agency inaugurated the newly-constructed facilities over the weekend.
The PAGCOR-funded basketball-court type multi-purpose facilities worth P12.7 million each were formally unveiled in the towns of Amulong, Solana and Peñablanca.
In the municipality of Solana, the evacuation facility built in the flood-prone Barangay Malalam-Malacabibi, was already used as a temporary shelter in October 2022 after the gates of Magat dam were opened to release water following the onslaught of Tropical Storm Paeng.
According to Solana Municipal Mayor Jennalyn Carag, despite being partially completed, the PAGCOR-funded evacuation facility already provided safe refuge to 80 families from low-lying communities in their town.
“Even when it was still being constructed, this center was such a big help for us,” she said.
In the town of Peñablanca, PAGCOR’s evacuation facility was built in the remote barangay of Minanga, which is almost two hours away from the town center and has no access to telecommunication. The community’s mountainous location and partly unpaved roads, make it challenging for the local government to deliver swift aid to locals whenever they are affected by natural disasters.
Peñablanca Mayor Washington Taguinod said: “The PAGCOR evacuation center became a priority for us because Barangay Minanga is far from the población. This is also a non-telco area, which means residents have difficulty seeking help in times of calamities.”
With the completion of the PAGCOR-funded evacuation center in the far-flung Barangay Minanga, Taguinod said that the locals – including the indigenous peoples living at the foot of Sierra Madre – will be assured of a safe shelter as well as a venue where the local government can download relief goods and other basic government services in times of disasters.
Meanwhile, Amulong Municipal Mayor Elpidio Rendon also expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR for giving the vulnerable sectors of their community a secure evacuation shelter during calamities.
“In Amulong, we have identified typhoons, landslides, drought and flood as major hazards. The flood alone affects 17 of the 47barangays. This situation pushes us to raise the adaptive capabilities of our communities that are exposed to flooding. This evacuation center will be of great help to the vulnerable members of our community – such as the elderly, children and pregnant women –especially during the onslaught of natural disasters,” he said.
PAGCOR’s Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility Group Ramon Stephen Villaflor, who graced the inauguration of the evacuation facilities in Cagayan, explained that instead of constructing a two-storey building, the state-run gaming firm provided funding forfour basketball-court type multi-purpose facilities in towns that are most vulnerable to flooding.
Besides Amulong, Solana and Peñablanca, the town of Iguig also received a basketball-court type evacuation facility. Final inspection of the project in Iguig was already conducted.
To date, a total of 24 MPECs have been completely built and inaugurated nationwide while 53 are still undergoing construction.