MANILA, Oct. 23, 2013— While restoring quake-damaged churches is a major concern, the head of the Catholic hierarchy said helping the affected communities is their foremost priority.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said that relief efforts are paramount to enable victims, particularly in Bohol province, to get back on their feet.
“Our interest is not yet churches but people because it will take time,”Palma said over Manila archdiocese-run Radio Veritas.
“Let us not worry that even if this is happening, we still continue the journey if even from the rubble something good will come out,” he said.
Authorities and church-based agencies are intensifying efforts to provide relief to thousands of people displaced by the 7.2 magnitude temblor that devastated several areas in Central Visayas last week.
In Bohol alone, the worst hit province, the quake displaced more than 65,000 people currently staying in different evacuation centers and destroyed several heritage churches.
The clergy, religious groups and other lay organizations in the Diocese of Tagbilaran met on Wednesday and discussed how they could sustain relief efforts to affected areas.
“We talked on how to continue the relief services for the earthquake victims and we talked on what we can do in the next phase to help the people,” Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso said.
Medroso added that they also laid out the plan to provide temporary shelters to families whose houses were destroyed by the quake and permanent housing later on.
“We talked on how we can give shelters to the people. That’s why we have been asking our benefactors to supply us tents so that people can stay in open spaces because they are afraid of the aftershocks,” he added.
“Then we are going to build a housing community for the victims through the help of our partners and benefactors,” Medroso also said.
As of Oct. 22, authorities said the death toll has reached 190 – 177 in Bohol, 12 in Cebu and one in Siquijor while the damage to infrastructure has breached the P1 billion mark. (CBCPNews)