MANILA - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines is calling on the public to help thousands of families who lost their homes when a series of powerful quakes hit Batanes province over the weekend.
Caritas Philippines, the Church's humanitarian arm, has released an initial P200,000 for relief operations for the country's northernmost province, according to a CBCP News report on Tuesday.
The foundation, however, is bracing for more storms this year and needs to use its Alay Kapawa Solidarity Fund judiciously, Caritas national director Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona was quoted as saying in the report.
"This is the reason why we are issuing this solidarity appeal to all the dioceses. Let us help the Prelature of Batanes assist the affected families, and rebuild the church structures," Tirona said.
Donations may be deposited to Caritas Philippines’ BPI account "CBCP Caritas Filipinas Foundation, Inc. NASSA" and number 4951-0071-08; or at Metrobank-lntramuros branch with account Name “CBCP Caritas Filipinas Foundation Inc.” and number 632-7-63202788-1.
Three strong tremors with magnitudes ranging between 3.2 and 5.9 toppled Batanes' treasured limestone houses and the belfry of a centuries-old parish, tore deep cracks in the road and forced the evacuation of a hospital on Saturday.
Authorities said some of the 9 fatalities, including 2 babies under a year old, were crushed by the walls of their own homes.
President Rodrigo Duterte said he will allot P40 million for the quake victims. Congressmen, meanwhile, have agreed to donate part of their salary to relief efforts.
Quake survivors urgently need sanitary napkins, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, hand towels, wet wipes, mosquito repellant, reusable eating utensils, generator sets for water pumping stations, and portable toilets, according to the office of House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.
"We continue to ask for your prayers especially for those who have been directly affected by this tragedy," Batanes Bishop Danilo Ulep was quoted as saying by CBCP News.