Press Release
August 14, 2018

Flooding exposed need for gyms, rescue boats, no cuts in MMDA budget--Recto

Climate change - and the frequent and fiercer storms it causes - is now a macroeconomic assumption of the budget as weather swings wreak havoc on many fronts, from farm harvest to child schooling when schools are used as evacuation centers.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the recent flooding in Mega Manila exposed disaster response and resilience activities in need of funding.

"One, we need more all-weather rescue boats. Hindi pwede na sa local governments lang ang mga ito. If we are buying frigates which can sail up to Libya, we can certainly afford rescue boats which can fetch stranded people in Marikina," Recto said.

He said one agency whose relief and rescue capabilities should be strengthened is the Metro Manila Development Authority.

"General Danny Lim is doing a great job as chairman. Let us give him more funds to build up a stronger rapid-response unit for disasters. Kung mayroong seaborne units ang MMDA, pwedeng linis-estero at ilog kung tag-araw, na pwedeng ma-covert into rescue teams during flooding," Recto said.

"We can begin by stopping the almost P400 million cut in the MMDA budget for 2019. Its area of responsibility is one of the world's top 20 biggest megapolises," Recto said, referring to the agency's proposed national government subsidy of P3.16 billion in 2019, from P3.55 billion this year.

Recto also renewed his call for the construction of more gymnasiums-cum-evacuation centers as part of the "Build, Build, Build" program.

The sports-cum-evacuation center, Recto explained, hits two birds with one stone. "It addresses the shortage of covered sports facilities, and the need for a disaster-resilient safe building people can seek shelter in during calamities."

Such a multi-purpose civic center can host community events on ordinary days but can house evacuees during calamities, Recto said. "Hindi lang pang-sports. pang-disaster pa."

Recto said the convertible gyms can store disaster rescue equipment and emergency supplies aside from being the "headquarters of the local disaster management committee."

"Yung nakita nating magandang evacuation set-up sa Marikina at Makati ay nasa loob ng gym. We need more of those," he said.

Recto said building more gyms in every town will prevent schools from becoming default evacuation areas during calamities, a practice which turns students into displaced persons, too.

Recto said the government began building evacuation centers in 2016, when that year's national budget funded 32 dormitory-type buildings in 16 regions.

In addition to building more of these, Recto urged government to "consider other designs, like gymnasiums which will serve as evacuation centers during calamities."

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