Archbishop urges gov’t leaders to ‘set aside politics’ to help disaster victims

November 19, 2020 - 5:57 PM
Residents retrieve belongings from their submerged village following floods caused by Typhoon Vamco, in Rodriguez, Rizal province, Philippines, November 14, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippines called on the country’s political leaders to “set aside politics” and help those most affected by the recent calamities.

“Let us set aside politics, our political affiliation, and convictions,” said Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamiz in an interview over Church-run radio Veritas 846.

“What is important is to unite and work together because we are all Filipinos and those who are suffering are our brothers and sisters,” added the prelate from Mindanao.

The archbishop made the call after President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at Vice President Leni Robredo, a member of the political opposition, for allegedly criticizing him for his absence during the recent disaster.

Duterte accused the vice president of lying to the Filipino people for making it appear that he was missing in action while Filipinos bore the brunt of strong winds and rains.

Robredo said on Wednesday, November 18, that “it’s well within [the president’s] right” to say she’s unfit for the presidency.

“That’s his right. He has long been saying that …. For me, of the many things we’re doing right now, should we even do that?” said Robredo.

“If you say I have not been doing anything, it’s your right to say that. I won’t defend myself because I know the people know the truth,” the vice president added.

Archbishop Jumoad called on the supporters of Duterte and Robredo not to fuel the rift and instead unite to help those most affected by the crisis.

“We have to stop blaming one another,” said the bishop.

“We have to recognize that there are lapses, but then if you focus on the lapses then we cannot move on because we continue to blame one another,” he said.

Duterte has earlier signed a presidential proclamation placing the entire island of Luzon under a “state of calamity” to address the impacts of the recent typhoons.

The three typhoons that pummeled the northern third of the country one after the other left at least 120 people dead, villages submerged in flood and mud, and farms and structures in ruins.