MANILA, September 17, 2014 — The Catholic Church is ready to help Albay residents escape a looming Mayon Volcano eruption.
The Diocese of Legazpi’s Social Action Center sent its personnel to various evacuation centers in Albay province to check on the prevailing conditions affecting thousands of residents evacuated from the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone and 7-8 expanded danger zone around Mayon Volcano.
Fr. Rex Arjona, Social Action Center director told CBCP News they would meet with a number of parish priests tomorrow to evaluate the evacuees’ needs. He said food has never been a problem whenever the provincial government would order evacuation.
“Food has never been a problem to us,” Fr. Arjona said. He explained Legazpi Bishop Joel Z. Baylon has ordered the reactivation of Harong Volunteers in the parishes. These volunteers open their homes to evacuees to decongest government-run evacuation centers.
“Even if there are designated evacuation centers, it can’t be avoided that there will be some still those that will go to us (to seek refuge),” Arjona said.
At least 12,000 people had already been moved to temporary shelters following a government order to evacuate residents within 6 to 8 kilometer radius of the Philippines’ most active volcano.
As lava continues to trickle down the volcano’s slopes, the authorities target to evacuate 50,000 people out of the danger zone.
Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon urged people who are still in the danger zone to evacuate immediately and follow government advisories.
“We urged everyone to continue praying the oratio imperata that the Lord may protect is from all harm,” he said.
The will also find ways to help evacuees acquire livelihood opportunities after being uprooted from their farming villages.
Fr. Arjona said Bishop Baylon also called on the parish priests to visit evacuation centers and celebrate Mass aside from attending to the people’s spiritual needs. He said the local church will attend to the evacuees’ psychosocial requirements.
He said the 2,462-meter Mayon volcano’s critical activity means a longer stay in evacuation centers or government-run shelters. Typhoons normally send people to shelters for at most three days. (Melo M. Acuna/CBCP News)