CBCP: Stop finger pointing

Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Lingayen - Dagupan

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, incoming president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, urged the public on Thursday to stop name-calling and blame-passing amid the ongoing relief and rescue efforts in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

In a statement, Villegas said the recent calamity calls for urgent charity.

“This is the time to light our small candles to fight the darkness and gloom. This is the time to spread inspiration, to dig for more hope and to send off more positive vibes in the air,” he said.

Villegas called on all Filipinos to extend any form of assistance to the typhoon victims as the government should not be the only one that should engage in relief and rehabilitation efforts.

“I encourage every church group or religious association to directly adopt one parish community in the Diocese of Borongan. There are 32 parishes that may be adopted as sister communities. The Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte has 64 parishes. We can adopt one parish and directly help them with relief now and rehabilitation later on,” Villegas said.

He also asked the public for a three-minute silence at 6 p.m. on Nov. 23.

“Prayer works. We cannot rebuild our nation without God,” he said.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle echoed Villegas’ appeal for the public to donate anything that could be of help to typhoon victims.

Risk management

An official of the University of the Philippines in Diliman yesterday said the government must first address the potential of disasters to be able to respond to them properly.

Benito Pacheco, UP Diliman vice chancellor for research and development, said the government must always be proactive.

“Disaster is the actual, and risk is the potential,” Pacheco said.

He said “natural disaster” is a misnomer because there is nothing natural about disaster.

“It is always a result of two factors – natural and man-made hazards,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano also said yesterday that the aftermath of Yolanda showed the various weaknesses of the government in responding to calamities of such a massive scale.

Cayetano said one particular issue that the government must address in order to make the disaster relief and response efforts more efficient is to come up with a single independent body with sufficient powers.

He cited the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the United States that immediately takes charge of the situation whenever calamity strikes as an example of what the Philippines needs to respond better to disasters.

Cayetano said that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) was envisioned to be that particular agency, but in its present form, it is crippled by various limitations.

“I see a lot of loopholes in the law creating the NDRRMC. I know they’re working hard and have been on top of the situation but we have all seen the weaknesses after Yolanda,” Cayetano said.

He said one of the problems was the absence of a Cabinet rank chief executive leading the NDRRMC.

Cayetano said that the executive director of the NDRRMC, without the Cabinet rank, has difficulty issuing directives to the Cabinet secretaries so the relief operations are affected.

“That is why a lot of people are asking, who is in charge and what is the lead agency, when in fact during calamities this should already be very clear,” Cayetano said. – With Dino Balabo, Marvin Sy

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