Gatchalian: Make school buildings typhoon-resistant

National, News

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said school building must be converted to typhoon-resistant structures,

The senator has urged the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to do so as soon as possible since the entire country is now struck by calamitous weather events all year round and schools are often used as evacuation centers too.

Gatchalian has filed Senate Bill 747 which seeks to establish a permanent evacuation center in every city and municipality, and proposes the construction of similar structures in schools to ease the pressure on classrooms.

Schools are often converted to evacuation centers when calamities strike. SB 747 (Evacuation Center Act) has identified standards for the improvement of school structures.

Under the proposed bill. the design of new evacuation centers and improved facilities should be able to withstand wind speeds of 320 kilometers per hour, moderate seismic shake of at least 7.2 magnitude. The structures should also use materials in accordance with the National Building Code of the Philippines (RA 6541).

Gatchalian who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said construction or repairs “should be designed to withstand destructive calamities.”

DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Pascua had said substandard construction is one of the reasons why many schools sustain damages during typhoons, and that based on observation, ceilings of buildings built from 2014 to 2019 are “likely to collapse.” Classroom windows and roofs should have storm protectors to make schools more calamity-resilient, he added.

Gatchalian suggested that roofs should be replaced with sturdy concrete roof decks to spare the government from  replacement costs every time a typhoon strikes.

The DepEd’s recent Education Cluster Report show that  Typhoon Ulysses has damaged 1,190 schools in 67 divisions. Super Typhoon Rolly, on the other hand, damaged 1,739 schools in 36 divisions.

DepEd estimates that P8.9 billion is needed to rebuild these typhoon-damaged schools.

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