DAVAO (UCAN): Catholic bishops appealed for prayers and help for victims of a magnitude 6.3 earthquake, which Mindanao, the southern Philippines on October 16, killing seven people and leaving more than 60 others injured.
The epicentre of the quake was situated in the town of Tulunan in Cotabato province, and hundreds of aftershocks, some as strong as magnitude 5.3 and 5.2, continued to be felt in several provinces in the region for days afterward.
Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, expressed solidarity with all those affected by the earthquake.
“Our thoughts and prayers are for those families who lost lives and also suffered damages to their properties,” said Archbishop Valles.
“We continue to pray that each one will look for each other’s safety. Let’s help one another,” the archbishop said as he called on people outside of Mindanao to offer help.
“May people who are from the outside reach out to the suffering communities and give them aid according to what they need,” Archbishop Valles appealed in a broadcast over the Church-run Radio Veritas.
“And we trust in the Lord’s constant presence in our lives so that even if facing fear and anxiety, we still continue our daily lives of service and unity with one another,” he added.
The news agency Rappler reported that people living in coastal villages panicked as the earthquake and aftershocks rocked their villages, fleeing for fear of a tsunami even though the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology did not issue a tsunami alert.
In Davao Occidental, provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer, Harry Camoro, said, “We have oriented people living in the coastal areas to evacuate in the event of a strong quake. However, the situation was quite chaotic because people were in panic as they evacuated to higher grounds,” Camoro said, adding that there had been no injuries.
In the Diocese of Kidapawan, Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo reported that there was “no major damage to our cathedral and other churches. Commercial building and other infrastructures in Kidapawan and other towns were moderately affected.”
Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamiz, said the strong earthquake was a “warning” for people to change their “evil ways.”
He said, “Maybe, we have become more materialistic and selfish and the Lord reminds us to change our ways,” pointing out how people have destroyed the environment.
“Mother earth groans in pain due to some irresponsible selfish persons destroying our mountains and polluting our rivers and seas,” he said.
The archbishop said the earthquake “serves as a reminder that we are not in control of everything … someone great is the most powerful.”