Over 600 households in two sites received relief packs on Jan. 16 from the first wave of Iglesia Filipina Independiente Ramento Project for Rights Defenders’ “Kapit-Bisig.”
Kapit-Bisig is a humanitarian mission to those affected by the still ongoing Taal eruption.
Benefitting from the relief operation on Thursday were 170 families in Lumil, Silang, and 430 families in Tanauan, Batangas, most originate from the 14-kilometer radius where local government units implemented forced evacuation as soon as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology hoisted an Alert Level IV for the Taal event, signifying an imminent explosive eruption within hours or days.
“This effort is an extension of the Church’s commitment to human dignity and rights,” said Rev. Jonash Joyohoy, RPRD executive director, before the beneficiaries in Tanauan. “The Church must not only tend to the spiritual needs of the people, but also their physical needs, especially when they are in need and troubled by disasters.”
“We understand the difficulty you are facing here. This will not be the last time we come to you,” he added. “We hope to gather more resources so we could come back and give you more help.”
The internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Lumil hail from Talisay, Laurel and Agoncillo in Batangas. In Tanauan, the IDPs come from Agoncillo, Talisay and Taal.
The effort, in partnership with the South Central Luzon (SCL) Bishops Conference and SCL National Priests’ Organization, is the inaugural response of an expected series, for which a fund-raising campaign is afoot. The effort hopes to further gather relief goods, mobilize faithful and reach out to more families in need.
In the meantime, the conference has already opened the Parish of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Tanauan as a sanctuary for those who have left their homes and as a center for the humanitarian missions of IFI. The parish was the very site of the Tanauan leg of the Kapit-Bisig relief distribution initiative.
The restive Taal volcano in the province of Batangas, a usual draw for tourists in its idle state, began erupting on Jan. 12.
The phreatic eruptions spewed ash that affected communities in as far as Mega Manila. The ashfall covered homes and farmlands.
The volcanic activity has also spawned hundreds of earthquakes. The seismic activities already ruined properties and created fissures on the ground.
The combination of events immediately affected about half a million people living within the 14-kilometer radius of the volcano. Of this number, around 50,000 residents from the 10 municipalities surrounding the Taal Lake and several towns in the nearby province of Cavite sought safety and shelter in temporary evacuation centers, whiles the rest went to the homes of their relatives and friends.
With the Alert Level IV still in place, the IDPs are not yet cleared to move back to their homes.
In a letter appealing for support from individuals and organizations, Bishop Rowel Arevalo, chairperson of the SCL Bishops Conference, said: “We humbly invite you to support our humanitarian efforts and earnestly wish for your help so we can make this special ministry possible.”
He added: “We hope you can join us in extending friendship, loving support and prayers to those affected by the calamity.”
For those who would like to extend help, please send donations to:
Account Name: Iglesia Filipina Independiente – Ramento Project for Rights Defenders
Account Number: 002410123976
Account Type: Peso Savings Account
Bank and Branch: Banco de Oro Taft-Pedro Gil
Swift Code: BNORPHMM