The Philippine Catholic Church’s social action arm has challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to walk the talk on disaster management.
Father Antonio Labiao, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said that one cannot talk about disaster and climate change resilience as coal power plants and mining flourish in the country.
“One cannot be doing disaster management while doing nothing against coal and mining operations in the country,” said Father Labiao.
“There is a climate emergency and we are failing miserably in our collective response,” he said.
Duterte, for the fourth time, used his State of the Nation Address on Monday to call for the passage of bills creating the Department of Disaster Resilience.
He stressed that the people’s safety cannot just be delegated to a council or commission.
“We must act [now] before another major disaster shakes [us] into action,” Duterte said.
The Philippines lies on a typhoon belt and endures up to 20 storms a year, some of them devastating and deadly.
Its location on a tectonic plate or earthquake fault lines also makes the country vulnerable to temblors.
Father Labiao said that having a new department that will focus on disaster management is a “welcome development.”
Caritas Philippines dedicates at least 50 pesos million per year for emergency response.
“The government should value the suggestions made by the humanitarian sector and the civil society organizations,” said the priest.