Manila (Agenzia Fides) - Christian Churches in the Philippines, and among them the Catholic Church, have supported and helped 4.5 million families with basic necessities and other forms of support, since March 15, when all activities were "blocked" to stem the spread of the coronavirus. As Fides learns from the "Forum of Philippine faith-based organizations" (FBO PH), an ecumenical network spread in Christian dioceses and churches, Churches and organizations linked to them have so far distributed financial assistance and basic necessities to people for a total of 30 million dollars, according to data collected until June 18. The three major Councils - the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) - formed the Forum as a mutual cooperation body.
"Faith-based groups in various churches have always been close to the poorest. During this pandemic, churches have combined efforts and resources to help those in need", said to Fides Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) of the Filipino Catholic Bishops. "The health crisis caused by the Covid-19 outbreak challenges all Christians and churches to find ways to act and make a contribution to dealing with humanitarian crises", he said.
Ecclesial authorities are encouraging people to get involved in volunteering, various aid programs and also to explore ways to raise funds between people and communities. Protestant Bishop Noel Pantoja, at the head of the relief and development services of that Church, said: "All the Christian communities in the country have a responsibility to respond to people's real needs, despite the lockdown. In these difficult times, the missionary work of the Churches must continue with sacrifice and commitment".
Minnie Anne Mata-Calub of the NCCP recalled that "non-governmental organizations, Christian groups and other humanitarian associations linked to the Christian world have always helped people. Sometimes, the government does not recognize their contribution, but this contribution is clear to all who have benefited from it. In this crisis it is necessary that Churches and the government work side by side for the common good".
"In this situation, all resources must be used with care and intelligence", said Jing Rey Henderson, head of communications of Caritas Philippines, noting that this is the goal of close collaboration among Churches of different denominations. "In times of crisis, vulnerable people, in particular communities affected by the disaster and affected by poverty, must be able to receive the necessary support for daily livelihood, to overcome the difficult moment, to rise again and return to hope". (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 25/6/2020)