Typhoon survivors ‘gambling, drinking lives away’ – bishop

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BORONGAN City, E. Samar, April 24, 2015—The shepherd of one of the dioceses most affected by calamities like “Yolanda” and “Ruby,” has expressed dismay over what he calls the “unhappy realities” the rehabilitation efforts in the area unintentionally and ironically helps foster: the “culture of dependence” among survivors, with many of them reportedly drinking and gambling instead of working for their needs.

Bishop Crispin B. Varquez of Borongan (on the left) (Photo taken from Varquez' Facebook account)

‘Unhappy realities’

“[But] let us also look into unhappy realities we have created. For instance, out of the millions or even billions of money that have come into survivors’ hands through different interventions of various institutions or persons, it is observed that only very few families and individuals have properly utilized such financial assistance. In fact, many families and individuals have used such financial assistance for other deplorable purposes,” laments Bishop Crispin B. Varquez of Borongan in a recent pastoral letter addressed to his flock.

Drawing on reliable information, the prelate bemoans that sales of beer and other alcoholic beverages doubled in the calamity-hit communities just months after Yolanda and Ruby .

He also deplores the notable decrease in farm harvests resulting from a lack of interest in farming.

Gambling, cockfighting

“Gambling, especially cockfighting, both legal and illegal, has registered more occurrences in our communities. Even fishing is on the downswing, with the price of fish in the markets increasing, simply because fewer fishermen go fishing despite having received free fishing boats, fishing nets, and other paraphernalia,” he adds.

Varquez blames the prevailing attitude on the overdependence of many survivor-recipients on easy money through cash-for-work, the social welfare department’s Four Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program), and other financial assistance programs ironically meant to help them get back on their feet.

“If this situation does not change, within three to five years after the INGOs, NGOs and other institutions shall have left us, the poverty level in our affected areas will likely be worse than before the super typhoons,” predicts the prelate.

Boosting the local economy

To meet these challenges, he reminds survivor-recipients to use the resources on hand to boost the local economy, ensuring no aid money is wasted.

Moreover, he stressed the importance of Church and government teaming up to inculcate in Estehanons the value of hard work and productivity.

Varquez further suggests a close supervision on how aid money is spent, and requested priests and lay leaders of his episcopal see to work together in teaching survivor-recipients the value of self-reliance and independence.

“After all, it is both a Filipino and Christian value. We say: ‘A human person is one who can stand on his own feet,’” he shares.

Expressing gratitude

In spite of these, the prelate urges his flock to “continue to express gratitude to the Lord for the grace of being able to rise from the widespread destructive effects of calamities that hit our shores, such as super typhoons Yolanda and Ruby, including the storm surges and flooding accompanying them.”

“This grace came to us through the collaborative efforts of International NGOs (non-government organizations), local NGOs, local and national governments, various religious and social institutions, families, and individuals with generous and self-sacrificing hearts. We continue to thank them,” he adds. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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