Philippines parishes help victims of landslide caused by logging
The Church has reacted swiftly in response to damage and distress caused by landslides that have already killed at least 89 people in the central and southern Philippines.
Hong Kong-based UCA News reports that parish centres in affected towns were quickly turned into evacuation locations, and parish priests are busy collecting relief goods to assist the victims.
Fr Edmundo Resus of St Isidore Parish, San Francisco, said that 15 to 20 families have sought refuge in his parish. He had ventured out into the rain and picked up some unjured people from the side of the dark and muddy roads.
Fr Resus said that though some Christian chapels and churches were destroyed in the landslide, the fact that the Catholic chapel in Punta was not damaged was "something of a miracle".
Early the next morning at the "Misa de Gallo" (rooster Mass), a special novena Mass held the nine days before Christmas, Father Resus urged his congregation to donate food and clothes and to help people affected by the tragedy.
Fr Resus said he called government officials in the region by telephone to ask for their help, but their response had been "slow". He blamed the disaster on "neglect of the government and the people who do not plant trees and just want to take the blessings from nature." He said it rained hard for four days from Dec. 15 and eventually part of a mountain beside the village crashed "because the [heavily logged] soil could no longer hold the water."
The parish priest said he would start asking people who want to receive the Sacraments to bring a seedling and plant a tree.
Parishes Offer Refuge, Appeal For Aid To Help Landslide Victims (UCA News 22/12/03 - registration required)
Philippines Mudslides, Floods Kill 127 (Associated Press/Guardian 22/12/03)
23 Dec 2003