Lacson eyes hospitals as permanent evacuation centers

Paterno Esmaquel II
Rehabilitation czar Ping Lacson says the government might rule out the use of hospitals and municipal halls for these purposes

NOT SPARED. A Filipino woman runs past patients at the Divine Word hospital in the super typhoon devastated city of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines, Nov 17, 2013. File photo by Nic Bothma/EPA

MANILA, Philippines – Rehabilitation czar Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Wednesday, December 18, said he proposes to turn hospitals into permanent evacuation centers across the country after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ravaged schools that served as temporary shelters.

The government is studying a plan to rule out schools and municipal halls for these purposes, Lacson added.

‘Yun ang pinakapraktikal na gawin mong evacuation center,” Lacson said of hospitals in an interview with reporters on Wednesday. (That’s the most practical place to turn into an evacuation center.)

Lacson said a hospital has everything needed in an evacuation center. (Watch more in the video below.)

Kasi may ospital na nga ‘yon, may doktor, may pagkain. Pati ‘yung soft component – ‘yung training, ‘yung skills ng mga doktor, how to respond or to react to calamities,” he said. (It has hospital facilities, doctors, food. Even the soft component is there – the training, the skills of doctors on how to respond or to react to calamities.)

He also said hospitals make use of standby power that runs 24/7.

Kung lagyan mo ng generator ‘yung munisipyo, baka mag-conk out lang ‘yung generator pagdating ng calamity, kasi hindi naman all-year round,” he said. (If you put a generator in the municipal hall, the generator might just conk out when calamity comes, because it doesn’t year all-year round.)

Strengthening hospitals

Hospitals will become even sturdier after rehabilitation, Lacson said. The government plans to fortify these to withstand the worst calamities.

Latest data show that among major infrastructure, hospitals suffered the least damage due to Yolanda.

Yolanda damaged at least P1.2 billion in health facilities, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in its report on Wednesday.

Schools, which the government often uses as evacuation centers, incurred P2.31 billion in damage. That’s around half the amount of damage that hospitals suffered.

Roads, bridges, and other structures suffered the worst damage, at P14.52 billion.

Flood control facilities sustained the least damage at P230.4 million.

In all, Yolanda damaged P18.27 billion in infrastructure.

PH-wide implementation

The proposal to turn hospitals into permanent evacuation centers, according to Lacson, is not confined to Yolanda-ravaged areas.

Lacson said this should be done across the country, using Yolanda-hit areas as the template.

This proposal came as the President vowed to “build back better.” (READ/WATCH: Aquino on Yolanda rehab: ‘Build back better.’)

The rehabilitation blueprint, titled the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY), echoed this principle.

“The objective of this plan is to restore the economic and social conditions of these areas at the very least to their pre-typhoon levels and to a higher level of disaster resilience,” the document said.

The government needs around P360.9 billion ($8.17 billion) for the biggest reconstruction effort since the end of World War II. (READ: PH needs P361B for post-Yolanda rehab.)

It aims to finish rehabilitation by 2017. –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at