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Building safe havens

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo (right) and La Paz Mayor Venustiano Jordan unveil the marker of the newly built Multi-Purpose Evacuation Center.

Being situated within the Pacific Ring of Fire makes the Philippines vulnerable to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. As if this is not enough, the country also sits on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, where destructive tropical cyclones develop.

Hence, thousands of Filipinos who are at the mercy of these devastating natural disasters often risk losing their properties and even lives.

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo (left) congratulates the people of La Paz town in Tarlac for the swift completion of their Multi-Purpose Evacuation Center.

To help mitigate the impact of natural calamities and support the government in providing comfortable, disaster-resilient establishments to vulnerable communities, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) released a total of P4.68 billion from 2016 to 2022 for the construction of typhoon-resilient structures in various sites nationwide.

In November 2020, PAGCOR launched its Multi-Purpose Evacuation Centers (MPEC) project, which aims to build permanent edifices in vulnerable communities mainly to serve as evacuation centers to mitigate the loss of lives during calamities.

The agency has allotted P3.50 billion for the construction of 77 MPECs in provinces that are frequently hit by typhoons.

Locations include Mountain Province, Kalinga, Benguet, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Isabela, Cagayan, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Capiz, Leyte, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Davao de Oro.

When the MPECs are not being used as evacuation centers, they may be utilized by recipients for other purposes and community activities such as sports meets, vaccination drives and seminars.

Meanwhile, the state-run gaming firm also unveiled in 2021 the “PAGCOR Village”, a charitable project that seeks to safeguard the living conditions of families displaced by the eruption of Taal Volcano in Batangas in 2020.

This project, with a funding of P150 million, will benefit the towns of Agoncillo, Lemery, Balete, Mataas na Kahoy and Taal. Said towns are all in close proximity to Taal Volcano’s danger zone.

Moreover, PAGCOR also granted a total of P1.03 billion assistance to some LGUs and organizations from 2016 to 2022.

Among them is the P11-million donation to the provincial governments of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Cagayan, Isabela, Kalinga, Apayao and Mountain Province for the rehabilitation of various infrastructure damaged by typhoon Lawin in 2016.

PAGCOR also donated P50 million to the City of Marikina for the construction of two covered courts.

Apart from the communities, PAGCOR provided financial support to Veterans Memorial Medical Center (P123.65 million) and V. Luna Medical Center (P53.22 million) for the construction of dormitories which will serve as a halfway house for the families and watchers of patients confined in the hospital.

The impact of disasters on the lives and well-being of affected families is real. But by bankrolling long-term infrastructure projects, PAGCOR is helping build safe communities for more Filipinos — improving their disaster-preparedness and mitigating the loss of lives.

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