Toiletries, food aid sought for 'Juan' victims. 150 families evacuated in Urdaneta

After typhoon “Juan" (Megi) lashed out northern Luzon come appeals for aid for its victims.

Caritas Filipinas, the charity arm of the Catholic Church, said that while it accepts other forms of aid, toiletries and food aid are its main priority for now.

“If the people get hungry, they’ll become ill," Sr. Perpetua Bulawan, coordinator for the National Secretariat for Social Action, in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.

Senator Ralph Recto, meanwhile, urged the National Food Authority (NFA) to distribute its idle rice stocks to the victims of the typhoon.

"From swimming in excess rice stocks, the NFA should give out the rice to typhoon victims who are practically swimming in flood waters and wading through debris swept by the fierce wind of Typhoon Juan," Recto said in a statement released Tuesday.

The NFA initially planned to sell its excess rice stocks to local government units (LGU) and the Department of Social Works and Development (DSWD) for their daycare feeding and food-for-work programs.

But Recto said LGUs should distribute it for free to barangays or families who are in most need of the rice stocks. Subsidized NFA rice for poor families is sold at P25/kilo. In "poorest areas," it is sold at P18.25/kilo.

"Village officials could organize house-to-house visits to inventory which of their affected constituents are missing, rendered homeless, and hungry. The rice could be the equivalent of the cash conditional transfers (of) the DSWD," the senator said.

In the meantime, Bulawan said Caritas Filipinas will also coordinate and appeal for help from its Caritas International partners.

Figures from Caritas Filipinas showed at least 200 persons are staying in six evacuation centers in Baguio City as of Monday night.

At least 150 families have been evacuated in Urdaneta.

For its part, international Catholic relief organization Catholic Relief Service (CRS) has started its relief efforts for "Juan" victims, saying it will channel its aid through Philippine Catholic dioceses in areas affected by the cyclone.

“This is the largest typhoon to hit the Pacific in 20 years, hitting the Philippines straight on. We’re focused now on getting assistance to these areas as quickly as possible," said Joe Curry, country representative for CRS in the Philippines, in an article posted on the CRS website.

On the other hand, the CRS said that while “Juan" had been downgraded to Category 2, it is expected to do more damage in the Philippines before striking China and Vietnam.

CRS Philippines emergency program manager Arnaldo Arcadia said they were meeting with a parish social action committee about 15 kilometers outside Baguio City planning emergency response when the storm began.

He said they took refuge in the parish—Immaculate Conception—when the winds and rain were worst. Arcadia said he and the CRS partners later made it back to the city.

In Ifugao in the mountainous Cordillera region, Fr. Val Dimoc said winds have hurt farmers’ rice crops.

“The rice plants are being blown down by strong winds. The farmers may not have any more harvest," he said.

Landslides are a key concern in hilly areas, claiming lives and wiping out fields, CRS noted.

It also pointed out that in the northeast, the typhoon uprooted trees and ripped roofs off houses.

“Juan" has cut off power and cell phone coverage in several areas and many families are staying in government-designated centers like schools and gyms. - with Kimberly Jane Tan/KBK, 
Repost from GMANews.TV