Decide on ‘missing’ Yolanda victims, bishop to Congress

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MANILA, Nov. 6, 2014—An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA) has called on Congress to conduct a study to decide once and for all on whether people “missing” due to Yolanda (Haiyan) will have to be declared “officially dead”.

Nearly a year later, some 1,785 persons are still considered officially missing because of super typhoon Yolanda. (Photo: Roy Lagarde)

“We will appeal to Congress to reduce the number years before a missing person can be declared officially dead. Otherwise, it will take four years or more, and relatives of the victims are still unable to get the benefits reserved for them,” Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo told Church-run Radyo Veritas in a recent interview.

According to the prelate, the question becomes more relevant given that many individuals have yet to be found one year after the tragedy.

The bishop, who also chairs CBCP-ECPA, stressed a formal declaration is a must so that families of typhoon victims can already avail of the benefits earmarked for them.

The government’s Social Security System (SSS) has earlier announced relatives of “lost” Yolanda victims can receive benefits on condition that they submit documents signed by their barangays and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The latest data issued by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reveal that besides the over 6,000 confirmed dead, 1,785 persons have been recorded missing because of super typhoon Yolanda. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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