05/28/2014, 00.00
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For Manila bishop, papal visit ought to spur greater efforts to help typhoon survivors

Mgr Pabillo, Manila's auxiliary bishop, criticises the government for its slow reconstruction efforts in the areas devastated by Typhon Haiyan. "In eight months, the Philippines will be the focus of world attention. We must do more," he said.

Manila (AsiaNews/CBCP) - With eight months to go before the planned papal visit to the Philippines, the government must double its efforts to rebuild areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, said Mgr Broderick Pabillo. For the auxiliary bishop of Manila, it would be a shame if the Aquino administration's rehabilitation work continued at its current slow pace.

The pope recently announced that he intends to travel to the typhoon-affected areas in order to bring his support to survivors. For this reason, the "government must strive to hasten the rehabilitation because if the visit of the Holy Father pushes through, the Philippines will be the focus of the international community," Mgr Pabillo said.

According to the prelate, who chairs the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), "many survivors are still living in bad conditions."

Haiyan (aka Yolanda in the Philippines) hit the Visayas islands, in the central Philippines, on 8 November 2013. It affected the lives of at least 11 million people. It will take at least eight billion dollars for things to get back to normal.

President Aquino put the death toll at no more than 2,500 people, dismissing as excessive early estimates of more than 10.000 victims, the result, in his view, of the emotional reaction to the tragedy.

However, the actual death toll has already topped the 5,000 mark with more than 1,700 people still missing.

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