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Wag tipirin! Recto wants enough funds for disaster relief activities

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Senator Ralph Recto on Tuesday said the recent flooding in Metro Manila has exposed the need to fund disaster response and resilience activities.

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

“One, we need more all-weather rescue boats. Hindi pwede na salocal governments lang ang mga ito,” Recto said.

“If we are buying frigates which can sail up to Libya, we can certainly afford rescue boats which can fetch stranded people in Marikina,” he said.

The Senate president pro tempore noted that MMDA chairman retired general Danny Lim “is doing a great job.”

“Let us give him (Lim) more funds to build up a stronger rapid-response unit for disasters,” Recto said.

“Kung mayroong seaborne units ang MMDA, pwedeng linis-estero at ilog kung tag-araw, na pwedeng ma-covert into rescue teams during flooding,” he said.

He added, “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.”

He was 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 said, “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,” he said.

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.”

He 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 magandangevacuation 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.

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.”