CHAMPIONING SAFETY: Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, along with Undersecretary Meynard Sabili and Assistant Secretary Leira Buan, spearheads the MOA-signing and groundbreaking ceremonies of two new evacuation centers in the municipalities of Alitagtag and Sta. Teresita, Batangas, on Friday.

QUEZON CITY – Two more evacuation centers are slated to rise in Batangas in line with government efforts to boost the province’s disaster preparedness.

On Friday, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario led the signing of Memorandums of Agreement and groundbreaking ceremonies for two evacuation facilities in the municipalities of Sta. Teresita and Alitagtag.

The projects are part of the government efforts to boost the Batangas local government units’ disaster preparedness, especially those  affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.

“This is a very important project, especially for Batangas, because the Taal (volcano) will always be like that. It is one of the most active volcanos in the world. Kaya itong evacuation center ay kailangang maitayo because it will be used as long as it (Taal) still stands,” the housing czar stressed during simple ceremony in Sta. Teresita.

“I hope this building will provide shelter to evacuees for at least 50 years. So kailangan ang standard mapanatili natin,” Secretary Del Rosario added.

He instructed DHSUD Regional Office 4A Director Jann Roby Otero to conduct regular inspections to ensure only the best standard for the facility situated in Barangay Calayaan.

Batangas 3rd District Rep. Maitet Collantes, Alitagtag Mayor Edilberto Ponggos and Sta. Teresita Mayor Norberto Segunial Jr. expressed sincere gratitude for the government-led program in championing safety.

Immediately after, the housing czar proceeded to Alitagtag for the groundbreaking of another evacuation center in Barangay San Juan.

The groundbreaking activities came barely two months after the signing of the Taal Commitment Agreement between DHSUD and Batangas LGUs affected by last year’s volcanic eruption.

Under the pact, three evacuation centers will be built – with the other one slated to be constructed in the municipality of Mataasnakahoy, for which a MOA and groundbreaking was also held two weeks ago.

The sites were deemed suitable location for such facilities following a thorough assessment conducted by the DHSUD Regional Office 4A and other concerned government agencies.

Apart from Otero, joining  Secretary Del Rosario were DHSUD Undersecretary Meynard Sabili, Assistant Secretary Leira Buan, Regional Office 4A Assistant Regional Director Felix Brazil Jr., DHSUD Housing and Real Estate Development and Regulation Bureau OIC- Director Angel Aguila and other DHSUD officials and staff.

Team DHSUD was warmly welcomed by Batangas 3rd District Rep. Maitet Collantes, Sta.Teresita Mayor Norberto Segunial Jr. and Alitagtag Mayor Edilberto Ponggos –all expressing gratitude to DHSUD and the national government for extending assistance to their municipalities.

Collantes even described the projects as “heaven sent” for the province and the Batanguenos as sge branded Secretart Del Rosario as “a man of action.”

“Napakaswerte ng mga bayan ng Alitagtag at Sta. Teresita dahil mayroong ibibigay na proyekto ang gobyerno sa ating bayan. Ito ay isang patunay ang ang national government ay hindi tumitigil sa pagtulong sa paghanap ng pamamaranaan kung papano masosolusyunan ang mga dinadanas natin, at very timely ito dahil ang ating bulkan (Taal) ay very active ngayon at ito ay definitely magagamit ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na kapag may mga sakuna,” the congresswoman said.

The projects are part of government efforts in assisting Batangas local government units and their constituents during disasters like the recent Taal volcano eruption as well as enhancing the province’s disaster-preparedness program. (DHSUD)

Later in the day, Secretary Del Rosario signed a MOA for land acquisition that will pave the way for the construction of a resettlement site in Mataasnakahoy intended for families displaced by the eruption of Taal last year.

“What we are doing now is actually part of the preparation for the long-term. Kasi hindi naman ang bulkan ay paminsan-minsan lang (sumabog) or isa o dalawa sa isang taon. It will continue to be there and might explode anytime,” the housing czar said.

“Kaya we need to prepare, we need to mitigate to ensure that we are ready if ever the volcano will erupt,” he added.

Mataaasnakahoy Mayor Janet Ilagan and Vice Mayor Jay Manalo Ilagan, who took part in the activity, expressed their sincere gratitude to DHSUD and the national government for their efforts in providing assistance to Batangas LGUs impacted by last year’s disaster and vowed to take utmost care of the soon-to-rise resettlement facility. (30) — CVC