Ringing of bells starts National Day of Prayer

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The pealing of bells in the country’s churches on Saturday will mark the start of the National Day of Prayer which     is the Catholic Church’s way       of commemorating the    first anniversary of the Typhoon Yolanda.

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In a circular issued November 4, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Archbishop Socrates Villegas urged bishops and apostolic administrators to simultaneously ring the church bells at 6 p.m.

The pealing of bells will be followed by the CBCP’s commemorative prayer, he said.

The Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop urged dioceses, schools and organizations to conduct activities to mark the event.

The CBCP Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA) has called on Congress to conduct a study to decide once and for all whether the more than 1,000 people listed as “missing” in the typhoon have to be declared officially dead.

Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, in an interview at the Church-run Radyo Veritas, said the Church will appeal with Congress to reduce the number of years before a missing person can be declared officially dead.

“Otherwise, it will take four years or more, and relatives of the victims are still unable to get the benefits reserved for them,” Pabillo said.

Based on the latest data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), over 6,000 were confirmed dead, 1,785 are missing in Yolanda’s aftermath.

Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP’s     National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (NASSA) said the Church has given P563 million for the relief, rehabilitation of      more than two million     typhoon victims.

Gariguez said the amount, mostly donations from 41 various Caritas Internationalis member-organizations in six continents, makes up the       total budget of the Church’s humanitarian arm for     Yolanda recovery.

He said the funds were used in implementing the Church’s integrated human development program Recovery Assistance to Vulnerable Communities Affected by Typhoon Haiyan (Reach) Philippines.

Reach Philippines also incorporates a holistic view on recovery by including six components: shelter or housing, food security and livelihood, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), DRR (disaster risk reduction), community organizing, and ecosystem recovery,     he said.

The project was implemented in severely devastated areas, including the 35 parishes comprising the Archdioceses of Iloilo, Capiz, Cebu, and Palo; the Dioceses of Kalibo, Antique, Borongan, and Calbayog; and the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa.

Reach Philippines covers 130 remote communities with roughly 141,112 beneficiaries who had previously not received much help.

Gariguez said the CBCP-NASSA is overseeing    construction of 3,753 permanent housing units or disaster resilient-shelters, of    which 1,600 have recently      been completed and are  already livable.

“Most of what the government builds are bunkhouses, the Church’s target until March is to put up more than 3,000 houses, that’s why we are right on track even budget-wise that’s why we can finish by March,” he said.

By April 2015, CBCP-NASSA is set to appeal for an additional fund of P300 million for ecosystem rehabilitation.

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