PALO, Leyte, Oct. 5, 2014—A concerned group appeals to Church leaders to stand up for Yolanda-affected families living in Baras, Palo who are likely to face yet another displacement in a “whitewash” campaign being planned by local government officials in a bid to rid their town of “eyesores” ahead of—ironically— the visit of Pope Francis, who will be there precisely because of the survivors.
In an interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas, Marissa Cabaljao, one of the spokespersons of People’s Surge, a non-government organization (NGO) that fights for the rights of Yolanda survivors, shared that Palo politicians are wasting no time in finding ways to gloss over their inefficiency and incompetence in the rehabilitation work in their area almost a year after the tragedy.
According to her, Palo politicians are pushing for the removal of the survivors’ bunkhouses along the road which the Pope is expected to take during his visit to the town.
“November 8 is the target date for the forced evacuation supposedly to secure the Holy Father’s route, but its real aim is to prevent him from seeing the truth of the situation there,” she explained.
Cabaljao laments that local chieftains have the gall to consider a cover up for which survivors of the super typhoon have to pay the price anew.
She hopes that members of the Philippine Church hierarchy will take the necessary actions to ensure that the faithful will have the chance to interact with the Holy Father in spite of politicians who may take advantage of the papal visit for the sake of self-aggrandizement.
“Residents are expressing their desire to meet the Holy Father in person, so that he can see their plight. Unfortunately, those in power are doing their best to deprive the Pope of the truth because by doing so they hope to make a good impression,” Cabaljao added.
Francis, the first non-European pope in over a thousand years, and the 265th successor of the Apostle Peter, is scheduled to visit the Philippines on January 15 to 19, 2015.
Philippine Church officials predict that the much-awaited event, with its focus on mercy and compassion, will bring a spiritual renewal. (Raymond A. Sebastián)