An Irish Jesuit based in the Philippines for 30 years said the country needs action more than compassion as relief programmes there continue to deal with the devastation of flash flooding caused by a tropical storm.
Typhoon Washi struck from December 16 to 18, ravaging the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan on Mindanao island.
Over 1,200 people were killed in flooding, many of whom were sleeping as the typhoon caused rivers to burst their banks, leading to landslides and washing away entire villages.
”Everybody is rallying to help,” Fr Peter Walpole told The Irish Catholic. ”People were working throughout Christmas, and we are grateful to see the numerous relief efforts under way.”
Fr Walpole is executive director of Environmental Science for Social Change which deals with disaster risk reduction.
He lives in the mountains above Cagayan de Oro and remembers the devastation of flash flooding in the same area three years ago.
”The disaster is terrible, but I have been tracing the floods for 20 years and the reason the death toll is so high is because even though we are aware, we are not active.”
He has called on the Filipino government to develop a major risk reduction project ”implementing the required engineering, land zoning, infrastructure planning, and sustainable relocation of people”.
Fr Walpole works on environmental projects with Xavier University, a Jesuit run school which is rebuilding over 1,000 houses though relief efforts.
Donations can be deposited at Bank of the Philippine Islands CDO-Divisoria Branch: Account name: Xavier University; Account no: 9331-0133-63; Swift code: BOPIPHMM; Routing no: CH 005873.