MANILA, Dec. 17, 2015– The Catholic Church through its social action arm, NASSA/Caritas Philippines, has started utilizing its local “Alay Kapwa” emergency funds for the operation of the rapid assessment, and emergency response for victims of Typhoon Nona.
According to NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez, there were at least three dioceses in the provinces of Northern Samar, Sorsogon, and Oriental Mindoro which initially downloaded funds totalling to Php 1.5 million.
According to the priest, these funds will be used for the purchase of food packs for the families affected in the said provinces.
Communication lines down
“We are expecting bigger needs in the coming days, especially as communication lines have not yet been fully restored in some areas. We, however, maintain close monitoring in the affected dioceses,” he explained.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines is also monitoring the situation in the other affected dioceses namely those in the provinces of Romblon, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Masbate and Nueva Ecija.
A “Nona” Monitoring Center is already operational at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Office in Intramuros, Manila.
Gariguez added that Catholic Relief Services (Caritas USA) has already deployed its staff to do rapid assessment and relief distribution in Northern Samar and Sorsogon.
“Initially, we received reports of the heavy damage in Northern Samar. Aside from the rapid assessment teams from the Catholic Relief Services, we shall augment this by sending another team from our office here in Manila and the Archdiocese of Palo Relief and Rehabilitation Unit (Caritas Palo),” said the priest.
More teams for deployment
There will also be more rapid assessment teams ready to be deployed to Oriental Mindoro and other affected provinces.
“From the rapid needs assessment results, we shall see if there is a need to launch a rapid response appeal to the global Caritas Internationalis to augment the current local funds available,” he added.
The church’s local emergency funds called “Alay Kapwa” is the Lenten evangelization and fundraising program of the Church to raise consciousness and funds for calamities and major social concerns.
Through these local funds and support from Caritas Internationalis, NASSA/Caritas was able to implement various relief and rehabilitation programs for typhoon victims in the Philippines.
The “Yolanda: rehabilitation program was the biggest it has implemented so far reaching 1.8 million people with funds amounting to Php 3.2 billion in the last two years. (CBCPNews / Caritas Philippines)