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Residents of Dingalan, Aurora now have a typhoon-resilient evacuation facility to turn to in times of calamities, following the inauguration of the municipality’s P50 million worth Multi-Purpose Evacuation Center (MPEC) on June 16, 2022. The two-storey structure was funded by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

Dingalan’s picturesque mountains, scenic beaches and pristine waterfalls make it a go-to haven of tourists who wish to commune with nature and experience exciting adventures. However, the rainy season poses a great threat to the municipality, which is often battered by destructive typhoons.

Locals, especially those from the coastal communities of Barangay Matawe, Barangay Ibona and Barangay Umiray, often scurry to evacuate to nearby schools, which serve as temporary evacuation centers.

Ibona’s Barangay Captain Ricardo Balala Jr. said their situation is far from ideal because the classrooms, which they use as evacuation facilities during calamities, are not designed for such purpose. “Kapag nagkakaroon ng kalamidad gaya ng malalakas na bagyo, hinihiram namin ang Ibona Elementary School at tsaka ang Ibona National High School bilang evacuation center ng aming mga residenteng nasa risk area,” he said.

Meanwhile, farmer and Dingalan local Roberto Modesto recalled the ordeals that he and his family experience during times of calamities, such as typhoons. “Kasi dito ang iingatan mo sa panahon ng kalamidad ay dalawa: ‘yung pag-angat ng tubig at yung pag-bira nung hangin.’ Kasi pag-angat ng tubig, baha iyan diba? At ‘yung pag-bira ng hangin, sisira ng bahay iyan. Nasubukan na namin ‘yung hindi kami makalikas dahil hindi kami makatawid. Nasubukan na din namin ‘yung sa ilalim ng puno ng Narra kami naka-puwesto. Sira na kasi ‘yung bahay namin. Meron naman kaming mga kapote at trapal. Pinag-susuklob na lang. Ganon’ yung sitwasyon. Mahirap dahil gustuhin mo man lumikas, kapag pumunta ka sa barrio wala ka namang lilikasan,” he said.

According to Dingalan Mayor Shierwin Taay, the MPEC in their area is a realization of a long-time dream. Salamat sa Diyos dahil ang pangarap na ito na magkaroon ng isang landmark building sa timog bahagi ng Dingalan ay nagkaroon ng katuparan sa araw na ito. Maraming maraming salamat po sa PAGCOR,” he said.

Apart from the inauguration of the MPEC in Dingalan, two newly-constructed PAGCOR-funded MPECs in San Andres, Quezon are now ready to provide safe shelter to locals who are often displaced by natural calamities after the inauguration of said evacuation facilities on June 11, 2022.

With a total of P77.90 million funding from PAGCOR, the local government of San Andres was able to hasten the construction of a two-storey MPEC in Brgy. Mangero and a covered court type evacuation center in Brgy. Poblacion.

PAGCOR President and COO Alfredo Lim who graced the inauguration events in San Andres, underscored the agency’s commitment to nation-building through its various Corporate Social Responsibility programs. “Being our flagship programme, the Multi-Purpose Evacuation Centers project has been designed to help safeguard the lives and protect the welfare of our less privileged kababayans who have no safe place to go during extreme weather conditions. This project has been made possible because of the dedication and commitment of our employees, who made PAGCOR’s revenue generation efforts possible, even amidst the pandemic,” he said.

Also, PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo expressed optimism that more MPECs will be completed in the coming weeks. “I am confident that our partner LGUs will continue to fast-track the construction of these evacuation facilities before the typhoon season. We all know how vulnerable our country is to climate change and these evacuation facilities will serve as their safe havens,” she cited.

Since its launch in 2020, PAGCOR has allotted P3.5 billion for the project. Of this amount, P2.024 billion has been released for 73 sites. A total of ten MPECs in Aurora, Quezon Province, Tarlac, Albay, Capiz and the towns of Sagñay, San Jose, Tigaon and Ocampo in Camarines Sur were completed.

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