As the Catholic Church in the Philippines joined the rest of the universal Church in the recent celebration of the First World Day of the Poor, as marked by Pope Francis, a Church official called for an end to the “dole-out mentality.”
“The poor cannot be treated as beggars of our assistance. They should be regarded with dignity, with the same importance we give ourselves. And we can only do so by improving our service delivery, by doing away with the dole-out mentality and by engaging the most vulnerable during decision and policy-making,” said Fr. Edwin A. Gariguez, Caritas Philippines executive secretary.
According to the priest, the National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa)/Caritas Philippines strives to strengthen its advocacy for the integration of humanitarian responses and development programming, just like in the organization’s work in Marawi. “We cannot continue to be blinded [to] this injustice.”
Not ‘business as usual’
“It cannot be business as usual when dealing with our poor brothers and sisters. The government and the church must combine its resources to truly improve their plight. We can start by establishing better coordination lines during disaster response, and by being more accountable to our people,” Gariguez added.
Meanwhile, in a statement, Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, Nassa/Caritas Philippines’s national director, recognized that “with over half of the world’s population [over 3 billion people] living in extreme poverty, the pope’s initiative to honor the poor is both a challenge and a celebration.”
“The initiative is a challenge for us Christians to be mindful of our actions toward the less fortunate, the underprivileged, the vulnerable and marginalized. Let us examine how our words and inactions affect those without voice and power,” the prelate said.
On another note, the Archbishop of Caceres also said that “the World Day of the Poor is essentially a time for #AlayKapwa—a celebration where we are called to offer and empty ourselves for the sake of our neighbor.”
In the Philippines farmers, fishermen and children, with a population of 21.9 million, are consistently found to be the poorest sectors, according to the 2017 poverty report of the Philippine Statistics Authority. Nassa/Caritas Philippines is currently implementing a P14-million
humanitarian response program in Marawi for over 3,000 affected families, which includes relief distribution, capacity building, livelihood support, community organizing and psychosocial intervention.
Caritas Philippines is also one of the convenors of the Philippine FBO (faith-based organizations) Forum, a platform for greater coordination among FBOs in the country, especially those doing humanitarian response in Marawi.
Nassa/Caritas Philippines is the humanitarian development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. CBCPNews
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