EDITORIAL - Mercy and compassion

(The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2015 - 12:00am

They’ve painted the town white in Tacloban, in a sobering reminder of what originally drew Pope Francis to this country: a disaster of unimaginable proportions, which left thousands dead and still missing in Eastern Visayas. Even the theme of the visit – mercy and compassion – is geared toward those who continue to suffer in the aftermath of the apocalyptic disaster.

Super Typhoon Yolanda has receded from the headlines, so it is fortunate that the hugely popular spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics is visiting to mingle with those who continue the struggle to rebuild their lives in the disaster areas.

The same areas, aside from parts of the Bicol Region and Mindanao, were only recently pummeled again by two more storms that left nearly a hundred people dead or missing. In the Davao provinces, residents have not yet fully recovered from the death and destruction from Typhoon Pablo two years ago. Yolanda also occurred in the same year that Zamboanga City saw large areas razed in a three-week siege by Islamic separatists, and a powerful earthquake destroyed some of the country’s oldest churches in the Visayas. Victims of those two events have also not fully recovered.

Tomorrow Pope Francis will mingle with victims of Yolanda and see the progress of the reconstruction. His visit will help ensure that the zeal in rebuilding will continue. Several key members of the international donor community have committed to sustain their assistance for the long term.

In the past year there has been bickering over the pace of the reconstruction effort, with politics aggravating the problem. There have been reports of typhoon victims being forced to find work in Manila for lack of livelihood opportunities and decent basic services in the disaster zones. Prostitution is said to be on the rise in the typhoon-hit areas. The visit of Pope Francis should strengthen the resolve of the Philippine government to intensify the reconstruction effort.

 

 

BICOL REGION AND MINDANAO EASTERN VISAYAS IN THE DAVAO POPE FRANCIS SUPER TYPHOON YOLANDA TACLOBAN TOMORROW POPE FRANCIS TYPHOON PABLO VISAYAS YOLANDA ZAMBOANGA CITY
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