Priest in Diwalwal parish pleads for help for flockBy Romulo Ponte |Inquirer Southern Luzon
The parish priest of a community of 50,000 people in Mt. Diwalwal in Monkayo, Compostela Valley, is appealing for help for his flock, saying hunger is stalking the people after roads that are used to transport food and other supplies to them have been destroyed by Typhoon “Pablo.”
Fr. Romeo Castillo, head of the San Miguel Mission Area in Mt. Diwalwal, said he counted at least 20 dead in the compound of the community’s church as a result of the typhoon.
More people could be dead soon if they don’t get food, said Castillo in a phone call to this correspondent, a classmate of Castillo in the seminary.
Castillo said he walked for at least three hours in knee-deep mud and took a two-hour ride to Tagum City to relay the desperate situation of his parishioners.
“I had to go down to seek help for my parish or else they would die, not from the typhoon but from hunger,” said Castillo, 50.
Help has yet to come to the community, said Castillo. Roads were destroyed, cutting off supply routes for food and basic commodities to the community.
Castillo said most of those living in the now isolated mountain community are migrants from different places in Mindanao, the Visayas and Luzon, who trooped to Diwalwal in search of gold.
“My fear is that if no aid would arrive in the area for three to four more days, the typhoon survivors, including those injured, could not survive because of hunger and absence of medical attention,” he said.
He said at least 98 percent of the community has been devastated. Attempts by authorities to penetrate the area have been unsuccessful because the roads are gone.
An Army helicopter that tried to land in the area had to put off its mission because of bad weather.
According to Castillo, his parishioners are now left to fend for themselves. “They are scattered everywhere in the mountain village,” he said.
Only five out of at least 30 chapels in the diocese that covers Castillo’s parish have survived the wrath of Pablo. Many of the chapels have been destroyed, he said.