CATARMAN, Northern Samar – Whenever tropical cyclones or days of incessant
rains batter the low-lying communities here, many locals are forced to move to safer
grounds, leaving their submerged homes behind.
Thus, as part of its efforts to mitigate the loss of lives in disaster-prone areas, the
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) on Saturday, November
10, formally inaugurated its first multi-purpose evacuation facility in this province.
The two-story building that cost Php50 million is the biggest evacuation structure to
be built in Catarman’s Barangay Polangi, which usually has one of the highest
numbers of displaced families whenever natural disasters strike.
Catarman Mayor Francisco Aurelio E. Rosales III expressed his appreciation for the
“PAGCOR’s evacuation center is an example of how a national government project
trickles down to local communities to benefit our entire population. I hope that we
can continue to strengthen our partnership with PAGCOR,” he said.
The lack of evacuation facilities in the municipality is one of the major challenges of
the local government unit in disaster response, said Catarman Municipal Risk
Reduction Officer Emerald Guevarra.
“We have 55 barangays, but we only have ten designated evacuation centers and
most of them are schools, chapels and other private establishments. These are not
enough because of Catarman’s huge population,” she explained.
Guevarra said global warming has made disaster response more challenging for the
LGU with each passing year.
“Mas matindi yung nararanasan naming weather disturbances. Minsan kahit walang
bagyo, basta sunod-sunod ang ulan, umaabot hanggang bubong ng bahay ang
baha. Add to the fact that our town is situated in the country’s typhoon belt,” she
One of the priorities of the Catarman LGU is the construction of safe shelters where
people could stay during dire situations but lack of funding has stalled such efforts.
“This PAGCOR-funded evacuation center here in Barangay Polangi is really a game
changer when it comes to the risk mitigation efforts of the Catarman LGU,” Guevarra said.
“Now we can cater to a larger population; hindi na din kami mahihirapan dahil
may maio-offer na kaming safe at komportableng evacuation facility.”
Aside from the Catarman project, two-story evacuation facilities are also being
constructed in the towns of Maslog and Borongan in Eastern Samar, and both have
received Php50 million funding each from PAGCOR.
To date, a total of 36 PAGCOR evacuation facilities in various parts of the country
have been completed while 36 are still under construction.