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Philippine bishop calls for proactive help for migrants

Comments come after publication of distressing photo of Salvadoreans who drowned trying to reach US

 Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Published: June 28, 2019 06:35 AM GMT

Updated: June 28, 2019 06:38 AM GMT

Philippine bishop calls for proactive help for migrants

The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Martinez Ramirez and his daughter, who drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande — on their way to the US — in Matamoros, In Mexico’s Tamaulipas State on June 24. (Photo by AFP)

A Philippine bishop has called on Catholics to be proactive in helping migrants following the publication of a photograph of the lifeless bodies of migrants on the bank of the Rio Grande.

The Salvadorian migrant and his 23-month old daughter died swimming across the river while trying to reach the United States.

"No one can keep quiet nor close their eyes. It is a calling to help, to heal, our answer as our Lord Jesus asked us to be, a Good Samaritan," said Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga
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The head of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Philippine Catholic bishops said the journey of migrants is "always a way of the cross."

"There are dangers, even imminent death," said the prelate, adding that looking at the picture of the lifeless father with his daughter, "all can see the sufferings and sacrifices of anyone who will do everything for the good of their loved ones."

Bishop Santos urged Catholics to be like the characters in the Bible, Veronica, or Simon of Cyrene, by helping migrants "wipe their pain, or carry their burdens."

He said it is also the reason why the country's Catholic bishops "walk and work with Filipino migrants."

"Here, we attend to their loved ones, and there, in foreign lands, we accompany them with our chaplains," he added.

"We make them feel that our Church is always with them for their welfare and well-being," he said.

"Let us continue to assist and help our migrant workers and pray always for safety, sound health, and success in their works," said Bishop Santos.

The prelate, meanwhile, praised President Rodrigo Duterte for pressing for the rights of Filipino migrant workers during the ASEAN Summit in Thailand last week.

"It was very encouraging and inspiring promoting and pushing for the rights and dignity of our [migrant workers] during the meeting," said the prelate.

"[We are] appreciative and grateful for the caring initiatives of our president," he said, adding that it was important that care for migrant workers should start from government leaders.

"As we witness, Asia is home to many migrants around the globe. And is indeed high time to do necessary measures to protect them, to promote decent and very humane treatment and to prevent unjust, unfair treatment," he said.

The prelate cited human smuggling and trafficking as the "most serious problem[s] and evil acts being committed against our Asian migrants."

According to the Center for Migrant Advocacy, up to 5,000 Filipinos leave the country daily to work abroad.

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