May 31, 2016
The Catholic Church through its social action arm, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines together with 30 dioceses previously hit by disasters gathered in Legazpi City to discuss and firm up its disaster preparedness and response plans in preparation for the typhoon season.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez said the1st National Caritas Humanitarian Response Summit, which ran from May 30 to June 1, envisions to draft the roadmap on disaster preparedness and response of the Philippine Catholic Church to the participating dioceses.
“This activity is very timely as the typhoon season in just around the corner. It is very important that we at the Catholic Church should start unifying our efforts in responding to natural calamities,” Fr. Gariguez said.
The priest added that the three-day summit, organized in partnership with Caritas Manila, Radio Veritas and the Diocese of Legazpi, also showcased the best practices of the dioceses and other organizations implementing emergency preparedness and response.
Sharing of experiences by the diocese of Cagayan de Oro, which suffered heavy flash floods during Typhoon Sendong in 2011, the diocese of Pampanga on the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, and the Archdiocese of Palo on Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 were also part of the program.
There were also representatives from in-country Caritas Internationalis Member Organizations, local church groups, and government agencies.
As the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), NASSA/Caritas Philippines currently leads the church’s largest three-year rehabilitation program called REACHPhilippines for survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in nine worst-hit provinces.
It also represented the country to Caritas Internationalis, a 165-member global Catholic charity worldwide based in Vatican, which is currently being headed by its first Asian President Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.
Experiencing at least 20 typhoons a year, the Philippines ranked second with the greatest risk to disaster worldwide in terms of climate change vulnerability based on the 2014 World Risk Report.
Recently, the country also experienced one of its worst droughts in years, which caused NASSA/Caritas Philippines to call for the immediate release of disaster funds to farmers suffering from the El Niño phenomenon.
Bishop Joel Bailon of the Diocese of Legazpi welcomes the participants of the 1st National Caritas Humanitarian Response Summit in Legazpi City. (Photo: NASSA/Caritas Philippines)
NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez explains to the representatives of different disaster-prone dioceses the importance of responding to the challenges of climate change and the church’s social action and humanitarian work. (Photo: NASSA/Caritas Philippines)
April Ann Abello-Bulanadi