MANILA, Oct. 12, 2014—A Catholic prelate sees no reason why Palo officials should remove Yolanda survivors from their present location in view of the papal visit if it will only mean glossing over their inefficiency in the rehabilitation effort, and keeping Pope Francis from seeing the real situation there.
While Manila Auxillary Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo clarified he is not against any move that will give survivors permanent shelters and the means of earning their living, he is uncompromising in his opposition to a “whitewash” campaign to be initiated allegedly by the Palo LGU that will make the post-Yolanda condition in the area look better than what it really is.
“Of course, Yolanda survivors are not supposed to live in bunkhouses forvever. They must have something they can permanently call their own. If their leaders’ motive in resetlling them somewhere else is to give them all these things, so much the better. But if it is to their own self-interest, it will be wrong for politicians to hide survivors just so the Pope can’t see them still making do with bunkhouses a year after Yolanda,” the prelate said in a recent interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas.
Pabillo, who also chairs the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA), stresses the Holy Father’s upcoming visit, with its message of “Mercy and Compassion,” is mainly about inspiring the people affected by the super typhoon, raising their morale, strengthening their faith, and not adding to their misery.
“It’s disappointing there are people who can even think of exploiting Pope Francis for their own benefit. The Holy Father is coming here to help the poor, not to make them poorer,” he added.
The prelate reiterated that the Catholic Church, as the “Church of the Poor”, has always stood up and fought for the rights of the underprivileged.
Meanwhile, Pabillo has called on the Archdiocese of Palo to look into this matter further, and to dialogue with Palo leaders on behalf of Yolanda survivors.
Pope Francis is scheduled for a four-day visit to Asia’s biggest Catholic nation on January 15 to 19, 2015.
He will be the third pontiff to visit the Philippines. (Raymond Sebastian)