(A two-storey PAGCOR-funded evacuation center will soon rise in the flood-prone municipality of Milaor, Camarines Sur. In photo are (from left) PAGCOR’s Acting VP for Corporate Social Responsibility Group Ramon Stephen Villaflor, President and COO Alfredo Lim, PAGCOR’s Chief of Staff/Acting VP of the Human Resource and Dev’t Group Atty. Alberto Regino, Jr. and Milaor’s Municipal Mayor Anthony Reyes during the project’s groundbreaking on November 12, 2021).
TO hasten the construction of more Multi-Purpose Evacuation Centers (MPECs) all over the country, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) released a total of P150 million to six towns and cities in the Bicol Region and Quezon province.
On November 16, 2021, PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo along with the members of the PAGCOR Board released P25 million each to the provincial government of Camarines Norte as well as the municipal government of Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte. The amount represented the first tranche of funding for the construction of the two-storey MPECs in the towns of Labo and Sta. Elena. Each MPEC has a funding of P50 million.
Earlier, PAGCOR also released a total of P100 million to the local governments of Milaor, Camarines Sur; Naga City; Lucena City; and Catanauan, Quezon. Each recipient local government unit (LGU) also received the first tranche – or P25 million out of the P50 million funding for a two-storey MPEC during the project’s groundbreaking on November 12 (Milaor and Naga City) and November 13 (Lucena City and Catanauan).
According to Domingo, PAGCOR will continue to help uplift the lives of Filipinos through the agency’s various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs.
“The MPEC project, being one of our flagship CSR programs, has always been designed to help provide long term solutions to our countrymen who live in vulnerable communities. While PAGCOR has always been providing relief aid to calamity-stricken communities, we give equal importance to their safety by helping LGUs build typhoon-resilient structures,” she said.
Meanwhile, PAGCOR President and COO Alfredo Lim who graced the groundbreaking ceremonies of the MPEC projects in Camarines Sur, underscored the importance of the project, considering the country’s geographic location.
“Bilang isang Bicolano, alam ko po na ang ating probinsya, maging ang buong bansa ay madalas hagupitin ng malalakas na bagyo. It is for this reason that PAGCOR is building structures that are stronger than the typhoons so that our people are protected and safe during the onslaught of calamities,” he said.
In the town of Milaor, Camarines Sur, 25-year-old Edwin Tularam and his family are among the locals who would stay for days in evacuation centers every time typhoons would pass through the Bicol region.
Tularam’s family lives in a shanty that sits on a swamp whose water level easily rises whenever it rains. Often, many locals in the neighborhood are homeless for a few days after a strong typhoon’s onslaught.
“Natatakot kami kapag may mga announcement ng bagyo dahil ‘yung bahay namin laging nasisira. ‘Yung bubong at dingding na plywood, tinatagpi-tagpi na lang para matirhan ulit. Ang baha naman dito ay umaabot ng dibdib. Wala kaming mahigaan at umaabot ng one week ang tubig bago humupa,” he narrated.
According to Milaor’s Municipal Mayor Anthony Reyes, the MPEC project in Milaor, which will be built in Barangay Maydaso will be of big help to them because currently, the town has only been utilizing barangay halls, classrooms and the municipal hall as evacuation centers.
“Hindi po kumpleto ang mga facility doon, unlike the PAGCOR evacuation center which is really designed for evacuees,” Reyes quipped.
Further, Catanauan’s Municipal Mayor Atty. Ramon Orfanel expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR for approving the two-storey MPEC project, which will be built in their town’s Barangay Madulao. He explained that as a coastal community, Catanauan is prone to flooding whenever sea water level rises.
Also, Lucena City Mayor Roderick Alcala thanked PAGCOR for the MPEC project in their city.
“In a year, Lucena experiences up to 12 tropical storms or typhoons. Lagi pong naapektuhan ang mga nasa low-lying areas. This evacuation center project from PAGCOR will cater to five barangays that are all flood-prone,” he said.
To date, PAGCOR has released a total of P1.259 billion to start the construction of 55 MPECs nationwide since the project’s launch in 2020. Said amount represents the first tranche or 50% of PAGCOR’s committed funding for the MPEC project.