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Philippine bishops make typhoon rehabilitation top priority

Archdiocese announces day of remembrance on December 8

Philippine bishops make typhoon rehabilitation top priority

Catholics from the Archdiocese of Palo attend Mass in the damaged Palo Cathedral (photo by Vincent Go) reporter, Manila

December 4, 2013

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The country's Catholic bishops today said the rehabilitation of areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan would be the priority of Church leaders in the coming months.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who took over as head of the Philippine bishops' conference on Saturday, said Church initiatives "must move forward from relief work to rehabilitation work, then hopefully to developmental programs."

Villegas said in a statement that the urgent need of people in the central Philippines demands "simplicity of lifestyle" for everybody to help the "displaced and grieving typhoon victims."

Caritas Manila, the social action arm of the Archdiocese of Manila, announced that more than 100,000 relief food bags have already been distributed to victims of Haiyan in the provinces of Samar and Leyte.

Fr Anton Pascual, Caritas Manila executive director, said his office already received a total of US$1.4 million in cash donations and US$183,000 worth of goods. 

Pascual continued to appeal for more donations, saying there are about 1.7 million people in several provinces in the central part of the country who still need basic provisions.

The priest said funds are also needed for the construction of chapels, houses, schools, and the purchase of farm equipment. 

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, meanwhile, reiterated his call for government to be more transparent and accountable in handling donations for typhoon victims. 

"We call on the government to be transparent and honest," Pabillo said, adding that financial aid in the past poured in but victims did not benefit from it. 

In Leyte province, the Archdiocese of Palo announced that it would hold a "Day of Prayer and Remembrance" for typhoon victims on December 8, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception and exactly a month after Haiyan hit the country.

Father Amadeo Alvero, the archdiocesan spokesperson, said an ecumenical funeral service will be held for all victims of the disaster. He said a corner in all parishes will be prepared where people can write the names of all those who perished in the disaster. Memorial services will also be held at the mass graves. 

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in its daily update that the death toll from Typhoon Haiyan rose to 5,719 with 26,233 injured, and 1,779 still missing.

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