The town of La Paz in the province of Tarlac became the latest local government unit (LGU) recipient to unveil a fully-constructed Multi-Purpose Evacuation Center (MPEC) funded by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), following the facility’s inauguration on May 20, 2022.
The emergency structure, which was completed a year after the project broke ground on April 9, 2021, is situated in Brgy. Rizal, one of the communities in La Paz that is prone to heavy flooding and other natural calamities.
PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo, who graced the MPEC’s inauguration was elated to see the project’s completion. “Napakasaya ko na natapos ito. Maganda. ‘Yung mga naaapektuhan ng kalamidad, sunog o kung ano mang sakuna ay mayroon nang mapupuntahang komportable at malinis na matutuluyan. Kasi ang pinakamasakit sa mga nagiging biktima ng kalamidad ay nawalan na nga ng bahay, nawalan na ng hanapbuhay, tapos kung saan-saan pa nakikitira at kung ano ano pang kahirapan ang dinadanas nila — kagaya ng gutom, sakit at lamig,” the PAGCOR chief said.
Meanwhile, La Paz Mayor Venustiano Jordan expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR for funding the evacuation facility. “PAGCOR helped us realize our dream of having a safe haven for families who have no place to stay when their homes are submerged in deep rain water. As you all know, the town of La Paz is historically marked as a catch basin. During heavy rainfall, La Paz locals suffer the impact of heavy flooding,” he explained.
One of the locals of La Paz, whose house is often submerged in deep flood is 52-year-old Alicia Cumbe, a single mother who supports her child and elderly mother by selling goods and food items in a little stall outside of their house.
Cumbe shared the ordeals that she and her family experience every time they are forced to evacuate due to heavy rainfall, and eventually flooding. “Ang nararanasan ko kapag bumabaha ay takot at nerbiyos dahil iisipin na naman namin kung saan kami lilikas, kung paano ‘yung pang-araw araw naming pagkain. Tsaka ‘yung kaligtasan ng mga kamag-anak…kung papano namin sila ilalayo sa sakit na dala ng baha,” she narrated.
Cumbe’s family, along with other families in the area, often seek shelter in their relatives’ house whenever floodwaters rise. At times, they also seek shelter in the barangay’s day care center, but the situation there is far from ideal.
Another La Paz resident whose livelihood is gravely affected whenever it floods is 64-year-old farmer Alex Cancio, whose crops are often damaged by typhoons and floods. He added that there was a time when they were forced to sleep in a tractor, parked in the highway because their house was submerged in flood.
With the newly – built MPEC now formally inaugurated, residents like Cumbe and Cancio can now have a safe place to stay in times of calamities.
The state-run gaming firm has alloted P3.5 billion for the construction of MPECs in 76 approved sites nationwide. A total of seven MPECs in Tarlac, Albay, Capiz and the towns of Sagñay, San Jose, Tigaon and Ocampo in Camarines Sur have been completed.