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Church response to Mayon disaster stands; PHAPcares hands-over p.2 million in goods

SOCIAL ACTION CENTER AND PHAPCares IN JOINT RELIEF OPERATIONS. Fr. Rex Paul Arjona, Legazpi’s SAC Director hands over relief goods from PHAPCares at Bagumbayan Elementary School. Some P .2 million worth of relief goods were distributed as initial assistance. Also in photo is PHAPCares’ Jason del Castillo. Phase II would be medical/dental mission during the month. (Melo Acuna / Bicol Times)

LEGAZPI CITY, February 7, 2018–The Diocese of Legazpi’s Social Action Center continues to serve evacuees from the villages around the famed Mayon Volcano.

“We have called on parishioners to open their homes to evacuees,” Fr. Rex Paul Arjona said in an interview at his office at the diocesan chancery. He said should parishioners cannot accommodate evacuees, they can at least allow them access to toilet and bath facilities.

He said churches have remained open to evacuees and in two instances, they allowed the wakes to be held in churches instead of chapels within the identified danger zones.

Fr. Arjona said Catholic Relief Services committed to share food supplies, too. However, the bulk would be spent on water, sanitation and health (WASH) facilities which are up for construction or repair in government evacuation centers.

He said while the Department of Education has downloaded funds for makeshift classrooms in evacuation centers, they have none for repair or construction of toilets and bath facilities.

NASSA, the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines already sent cash and would pursue its emergency shelter program. Caritas Manila also send relief goods to the Diocese of Legazpi.

Fr. Ariel Lubi, CSsR, superior of the Redemptorists in Baclaran said there is a need for “good morning towels” because it could also be utilized as face masks.

“(Albay) Governor Al Francis Bichara is serious into housing and he has been pushing for it,” Fr. Arjona said. He added there is legislation and funding to support the program for some 2,000 families still residing in the permanent danger zone.

The SAC director said all that is needed is to gather all existing resources along with landbanking.

Fr. Arjona said while President Rodrigo Duterte handed over P 50 million to the provincial government, it is quite small compared to the expenses incurred by local government units.

“Fifty million pesos against 84,000 individuals would only mean P 595.00 per person which would be equivalent to a week’s relief supply,” he said. He said it is time for everyone to help Albay’s disaster evacuees.

Meanwhile, PHAPCares program manager Dennis Romerick G. Tuazon, a registered medical technologist handed over P .2 million worth of relief goods to 1,118 families composed of 4,180 individuals at Bagumbayan Elementary School where evacuees from Barangay Buyuan are temporary billeted.

The goods included rice, noodles, some canned goods and mineral water.

Tuazon and Fr. Arjona discussed how PHAPCares could further extend assistance to the evacuees. Tuazon said volunteer medical and dental doctors may soon identify the evacuation center they will serve soon.

Tuazon also met with Dr. Antoniio S. Ludovice, provincial health officer and discussed partnerships. Ludovice said while medical professionals attend to the evacuees, additional support from volunteers would be a welcome development. (Melo M. Acuna / Bicol Times)

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