18 November 2017, Iligan City—The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR) Inc joins other faith-based organizations (FBOs) in synergizing responses to support Marawi crisis survivors.
Ailene Villarosa, program coordinator of RMP-NMR, said that the platform reinforces coordination and responses for the survivors of the embattled City.
The FBO includes the Catholic Church through NASSA/Caritas Philippines, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), and the Philippines Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) – Philippine Relief and Development Services (PHILRADS).
“We are now considered to be the strongest alliance of FBOs in the country with over 30,000 local churches, national organizations and international affiliations, and it is imperative that we do our share to help our Maranao brothers and sisters” said Bishop Noel Pantoja, PCEC National Director during the round-table discussion in Quezon City on October 19 this year.
“As of this report, the group already has a combined PhP 28.5 million – worth of direct response helping more than 10,000 internally displaced families. In the last five months since May, 2017, the collective efforts were able to provide food packs, hygiene and shelter kits, essential non-food items, medical and psychosocial support and other capacity building activities for the IDPs and volunteers in Marawi City, Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro and other neighbouring provinces,” according to the NCCP.
“While we see these efforts as still needed on-ground, we are also intensifying our campaign to promote peace, solidarity and cooperation among Christians and Muslims. Efforts to start the process of healing are on-going and the FBOs’ initiatives to realize this goal is vital to continuous dialogue and reconciliation,” Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Executive Secretary of NASSA/Caritas Philippines added.
“Part of the action plans now is to come up with a Philippine FBO Forum (PFF) that would be the central platform of the FBOs in responding to humanitarian and development needs of the poorest and the most vulnerable, and the displaced and the marginalized,” said Fr. Gariguez.
Attending the local meeting on November 14 at the St. Alphonsus’ Hall of the Redemptorists Congregation in Iligan City, Ailene Villarosa of RMP-NMR said that the platform is a very good initiative showing the coming of Christians together in support of the most vulnerable populations. “It is a Christian imperative to provide protection and hospitality to the internally displaced persons regardless of faith, and the unity of churches makes the efforts of faith-based organizations stronger,” she said.
RMP-NMR is managing the ‘Welcoming the Strangers’ Program to support the survivors of the Marawi Crisis. The Program is a humanitarian initiative which was originally established midyear of 2011 to give support to indigenous peoples who fled their ancestral lands due to persecution, militarization and exploitation. When the deadly TS Washi (local name: Washi) came, the program expanded and extended the hospitality to our grieving, homeless and starving brethren in Northern Mindanao. Later the Program expanded to support communities affected by Bopha (Pablo) in Davao Region, Haiyan (Yolanda) and Hagupit (Ruby) in the Eastern Visayas. The Program later included not just delivery of much-needed humanitarian services to survivors of natural and man-made calamities, but also contributed to the eventual rehabilitation of affected communities while developing their resilience. The program currently develops reconstruction and rehabilitation initiatives for Marawi survivors foreseen to be supported by Catholic organizations such as the Fundacion de Religiosos para la Salud and the Caritas Humanitarian and Relief Initiatives Singapore, among others.
The NCCP said that other Christian and evangelical groups will be invited to strengthen the FBO, and to ensure greater coordination and timely delivery of response and services.
NCCP is the ecumenical fellowship of Protestant and non-Roman Catholic denominations in the Philippines, working on humanitarian, development and advocacy as part of its programs.
PHILRADS is the relief and development arm of PCEC, working hand-in-hand with the local churches doing its holistic ministries.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines is the humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
[PHOTO above: RMP-NMR Program Coordinator Ailene Villarosa--2nd from left--together with other FBOs during the meeting at the St. Alphonsus' Hall of the Redemptorist Congregation in Iligan City on November 14, 2017]