Bishop demands gov’t, church action vs drought

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MANILA, Feb. 5, 2016— A Catholic bishop urged government and church aid agencies to ensure people get enough to eat, particularly those living in drought-stricken areas of Mindanao.

Bishop Martin Jumoad of Basilan said many people, who rely on agriculture for food and income, may face starvation if the drought that has been plaguing their communities continues for another month.

“I hope the government, particularly the National Food Authority and the Department of Social Welfare Development, will do something about this,” said the prelate.

State of calamity

Damage to agricultural crops have recently prompted local officials to put the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato under a state of calamity due to the El Niño phenomenon.

According to him, the Church and the government must also help each other to address the needs of the affected communities.

“The church and state must collaborate to help those who have no rice and have nothing to eat,” he said.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo earlier called on the government to provide assistance to agricultural workers who would be affected by the El Niño.

1 million to lose jobs

He said more attention should be given to agricultural workers who may lose their jobs due to what could be the worst drought in two decades.

The Trade Union of the Philippines (TUCP), the country’s biggest labor group, said at least one million workers in the agricultural sector may possibly lose their jobs due to the effects of El Niño.

“It is unemployment that generates the poverty that leads to hunger,” Pabillo said. “The question now is what are the government’s mitigation plans?”

He said while the Church is more than willing to help, the government must lead in the efforts because “it has the resources and the technology.” (CBCP News)

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