Group to CBCP: Open churches in ‘Pablo’ devasted areas as evacuation centers

THE failure of the national government and local government units in Mindanao and other areas affected by super typhoon Pablo to provide enough evacuation centers for flood and disaster victims prompted the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) to appeal to the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to open their churches and parishes to accommodate tens of thousands of flood and disaster victims who need temporary shelter at the moment.

In a statement, Pamalakaya chairperson Fernando Hicap appealed to top leadership of the 117 archbishops and bishops CBCP to declare local chuches, semninar houses, convents and parishes in Mindanao and other Pablo devastated areas as sanctuaries to accommodate thousands of families who should be evacuated and given temporary shelter until the flood subsides in their respective areas.

“We appeal to CBCP President Jose Palma to instruct the archdioceses and dioceses, social action centers, local churches and parishes in opening the gates of heaven for those who need protection and shelter of the Church,” said Hicap, also the vice chairperson of Anakpawis party list.

The Pamalakaya official in particular requested the opening of churches and other church-based establishments in Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Sibugay, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Palawan, Bohol, siquijor, Iloilo, Guimaras, Antique, Aklan and Capiz.

As of yesterday, the National Disaster and Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that 42 were killed and 24 were still missing due to flash floods. Most of the deaths were in New Bataan in Compostela Valley.

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) claimed that initial reports showed that 8,400 families were evacuated to safer ground in Davao Oriental, Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro City, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Leyte. Reports also said about 3,430 passengers of 93 interisland vessels were stranded in 16 major sea ports, including those in Manila and parts of Visayas and Mindanao.

For twelve straight days, ordinary and poor people are living in life threatening condition and we hope this situation merits the attention of the CBCP leadership. This appeal is meant to decongest these poorly designated evacuation centers of the government,” the fisherfolk leader added.

While the Pamalakaya leader appealed for help from CBCP, it slammed President Benigno Simeon Aquino III for not releasing a substantial portion of his unprogrammed funds for 2012. Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list noted that President Aquino only ordered the release of P 6 billion from his P 21.7 B calamity funds allocated by Congress this year.

“Aquino is keeping in his vault some P 15 billion in total taxpayers’ money. It belongs to the people courtesy of hard work and therefore should be given back to the people in the form of relief and production subsidy grants for free,” the groups said.

The militant groups said President Aquino should ready the calamity funds upon the request of people’s associations and local government units in Pablo devastated areas.

“The people fully deserve any appropriate assistance. The remaining P 15-B calamity fund for 2012 belongs to them and not to Aquino and his financial keepers,” the groups added.

Pamalakaya revealed of the P 21.7 B disaster fund under the Office of the President, about P 7.5 B is alloted for calamity funds and P 14.2 billion is set aside for unprogrammed disaster risk and management activities.

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