Pope Francis has donated around 100,000 euros (P5 million) as initial financial assistance for the victims of Typhoon Odette, which lashed Mindanao, the Visayas and the Bicol Region and Palawan last month.
Church-run Radio Veritas reported on Wednesday the Holy Father, through the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and in collaboration with the Apostolic Nunciature in the Philippines, allocated the financial aid for the rehabilitation of damaged homes and churches in provinces severely damaged by the disaster.
“It is intended to be an immediate expression of the Holy Father’s sentiment of spiritual closeness and paternal encouragement towards the people and territories affected,” the Vatican said in a statement.
During his Angelus last December 19, the Pope extended prayers for the victims of the disaster caused by the typhoon.
At present, the social arms of the church, including Caritas Philippines and Caritas Manila, are conducting relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction in the ten dioceses that were severely damaged.
Caritas Manila has distributed up to PHP20 million in cash assistance to the affected areas.
These are the Dioceses of Surigao, Tagbilaran, and Talibon in Bohol, Maasin, Cebu, Kabankalan and Dumaguete in Negros provinces, Taytay and Puerto Princesa in Palawan and the Archdiocese of Cagayan De Oro.
On the other hand, Caritas Philippines, headed by national director Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, continues to visit affected areas to personally extend financial assistance and determine the extent of the damage from the recent calamity.
The announcement of the donation emerged as officials said the number of families affected by Typhoon Odette had reached 2,336,249, more than a month after it swept through many areas in the Visayas and Mindanao.
These affected families are in 8,910 barangays in Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao region, Soccsksargen, Caraga, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Families still inside the 1,170 evacuation centers are placed at 58,511 while those being aided outside are at 32,842 with the remainder being helped by families and friends.
Damaged houses were placed 1,369,433 in Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao region, Soccsksargen, Caraga and BARMM.
Meanwhile, the Office of Civil Defense has so far provided 1.74 million liters of drinking water to communities severely affected by Typhoon Odette last month.
“In terms of water, OCD provided 1.74 (million) liters or 2.1 million water bottles,” OCD Assistant Secretary Hernando Caraig Jr. said in his report to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Caraig made the remark in response to the President’s question on whether there is a stable supply of drinking water in typhoon-battered areas.
Caraig added that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s logistics cluster, which is also headed by the OCD, has so far delivered around 6.49 million kilograms of various relief items.