Church hopes for ‘substantial aid’ as Aquino visits ‘Nona’-hit Oriental Mindoro
CITY OF CALAPAN – The priest heading the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action Center (CBCP-Nassa) hoped for substantial aid, and not merely ceremonial aid, when President Benigno Aquino III visits typhoon-devastated Oriental Mindoro this afternoon.
While “thankful” for the announced visit of Aquino to the province, Fr. Edwin Gariguez, in a statement, said he hoped “it will not only be ceremonial but must bring substantial support with fullest possible efficiency.”
Gariguez, the secretary general of CBCP-Nassa, joined the Church-led team that evaluated the needs of affected families of typhoon Nona that devastated the province on Dec. 15.
Aquino is scheduled to visit at 1 p.m. today the town of Pimanalayan, the hardest-hit town of Oriental Mindoro where Typhoon Nona made its fifth landfall with maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 185 kph at its peak.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), typhoon Nona left at least 17 dead, 20 injured with still unvalidated reports of fatalities. At least 180,889 Filipino families are affected.
Damages to infrastructure and agriculture in the regions of Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), Bicol (Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte), Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) and the three Samar provinces have reached nearly P1 billion.
Aquino has declared a State of National Calamity in the wake of the typhoon.
But in Oriental Mindoro, the losses to agriculture alone reached higher than the total figure from the NDRRMC, at P2.2 billion (P2,260,293,652.25).
The figure was released during the joint meeting Tuesday of the Regional Disaster Risk Management Council of Mimaropa (Region 4B) and the Provincial Disaster Risk Management Council.
The two DRMMCs also reported that the typhoon affected 423,400 individuals (94,695 families), with 324,986 (74,042 families) of them totally displaced by the typhoon.
Homes totally damaged by the typhoon totaled 27,854 while partially damaged houses was placed at 36,481.
Thirteen casualties were reported. But the number could rise due to difficulty in data collection because of the huge number of felled trees and electric posts making the roads difficult to pass through.
Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali Jr. said typhoon Nona was the hardest to hit the province in two decades.
“We need the government to provide decisive leadership in responding to the needs of our suffering people,” said Gariguez.
“The impact of the calamity is truly disastrous and we need to mobilize all the help that we can get, from the government and from international humanitarian community,” he added.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan, through the Diocesan Service Commission, has launched the “Hapag Awa at Kalinga,” raising funds and other forms of assistance, where Nassa has initially donated P500,000.
Nassa, along with Caritas Philippines and Caritas Manila, since the wake of the typhoon, have been providing relief packs and financial assistance to the worst-hit dioceses/apostolic vicariates: Catarman, Sorsogon, Romblon and San Jose.
Nassa-Caritas Philippines, through its director Fr. Rolando Tria Tirona, has appealed for local fund assistance, to add to Alay Kapwa and international support like the Catholic Relief Services, to all dioceses in the country.
“As we aspire to meaningfully celebrate the birth of our Savior, we encourage our Christian communities to share in this mission of love and solidarity, especially for the needy and the most vulnerable for whom the Lord comes and made himself present”, he said. CDG
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