TWO towns in the provinces of Aurora and Tarlac received a total of P100 million grant from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for the construction of two Multi-Purpose Evacuation Centers (MPECs), which locals can use in times of calamities and disasters.
Dingalan, Aurora and La Paz, Tarlac received the first tranche of funding for the evacuation center project, which cost P50 million each. PAGCOR initially granted P25 million to each LGU to jumpstart construction – amidst the pandemic.
PAGCOR officially turned over the initial funding during the MPEC project’s groundbreaking ceremonies in Barangay Ibona, Dingalan, Aurora on April 8 and in Barangay Rizal, La Paz, Tarlac on April 9.
Dingalan Mayor Shierwin Taay expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR for proceeding with the project despite the pandemic. “We felt relieved when we were told that we can now go on with construction. This project will truly benefit our fellow Dingaleños especially our seven coastal barangays,” he said.
As a coastal municipality fronting the Pacific Ocean, Dingalan’s water level from the shorelines can rise from 50 to over 100 feet, especially if triggered by a tsunami. Flooding can also extend inland by 1,000 feet or more, covering large expanses of land, according to the provincial official website.
Ibona Small Fishermen Association President Leonardo Viaje, Jr. recalled how Typhoon Ulysses, which battered the country in November 2020, caused much destruction as many fishermen lost their boats in the aftermath of the typhoon.
“Kagandahan po nito, may magagamit na evacuation center ang mga kasamahan ko sa pangingisda, maging ang mga magsasaka na nakatira sa tabing-dagat, he said.”
Municipal Agriculture and Fisheries Council Chairman Asrelita Del Rosario furthered that the MPEC will serve the farming communities not just during calamities but also during important meetings, which are often held in cramped venues or under the trees.
Meanwhile, La Paz Mayor Venustiano Jordan and fellow officials were likewise elated that PAGCOR chose them as beneficiary of the MPEC project. Being a catch basin municipality, Jordan said the facility will provide comfort to affected families and will make relief activities more efficient. “This will also serve as activity center especially for our youth and elderly sectors,” he added.
To date, PAGCOR already bankrolled the construction of 19 evacuation centers. Apart from Aurora and Tarlac, PAGCOR has also released the first tranche of funding for the MPECs in Catarman, Samar; Barangays Camflora, Mangero and Poblacion in San Andres, Quezon; Tapaz, Capiz; Cajidiocan, Romblon; Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur; Tagudin, Ilocos Sur; Tadian, Mountain Province; Legazpi City and Ligao in Albay; Ocampo, Tigaon, San Jose and Sagnay in Camarines Sur; and San Fernando and Floridablanca in Pampanga.
Since it launched the project in November 2020, the gaming firm already released a total of P463 million out of its P2 billion budget for the construction of typhoon-resilient evacuation centers around the country.
PAGCOR Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility Jimmy Bondoc, in his speech during the groundbreaking activity in Tarlac said that PAGCOR has been playing an important role in President Rodrigo Duterte’s aim to provide necessary services to the people despite the pandemic, which include the construction of much-needed multi-purpose evacuation centers to the different parts of the country.