Philippine parishes told to prepare for disasters

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Philippines, August 25, 2016: Catholic parishes in the Philippines are being urged to develop disaster preparedness skills and risk-reduction plans in the face of calamities that hit the country every year.

An average of 20 tropical cyclones hit the Philippines in a typical year leaving behind a trail of destruction and many deaths.

“We have already started working with some dioceses to create contingency plans,” said Father Edwin Gariguez of Caritas, the church’s social action arm.

The priest expressed hope that all parishes will develop their own plans.

The Philippine-Misereor Partnerships Inc. (PMPI) noted that Catholic parishes have become homes to people seeking refuge from disasters.

PMPI is a social development network of people’s organizations, faith-based groups, and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany.

“It is part of our function not only to give shelter but to educate, advocate, and assist people towards unity in preparedness,” said Yolanda Esguerra, PMPI national coordinator.

Father Gariguez said the best calamity first-responders are the parishes but they need support in terms of training and skills development.

The priest said that even before super typhoon Haiyan struck in 2013, the church has been organizing its social action offices to be community-based, prepared and incorporate risk-reduction management units.

Father Gariguez said the church saw the need to expand the program after the super typhoon left at least 7,500 people dead.

“We expanded our program to reach more dioceses and equip them with basic knowledge and to widen our objective to create more emergency response teams nationwide,” he said.

The priest urged dioceses and local parishes to raise funds to support the campaign.

In Leyte province, Caritas built an evacuation center and a distribution depot for relief goods in preparation for typhoons that will hit the eastern part of the country.

In September, the social action arm of the bishops’ conference will launch a “coordinated communication database” that will equip churches with information vital for relief operations.

PMPI’s Esguerra said the success of battling disaster and mitigating its effects lies on the capabilities of every community.

“We may have the structure when it comes to emergency response, but our effectiveness rests on the people,” she said.

– ucan

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