Need for a DACS Protocol on Disaster Response

[Thoughts from the DACS President]

Typhoon Pablo has devastated many of our schools. The images that we have from Assumption Academy of Compostela, Comval, are heartrending. It is 80% destroyed. The roof of its newly-built gymnasium was blown off. Library books were obliterated. Computers and sewing machines were ruined. The school’s administrative records were destroyed. The convent of Sr. Erlinda Factura, FMA, and her community is devastated.

The plight of Assumption Academy of Compostela is not isolated. Schools especially in out Tagum and Mati clusters have been heavily damaged.

It is for this reason that we have embarked on a fundraising campaign. Complemented by images carried by the public media, help is coming in from friends and supporters – some, significantly, from abroad.

I would like to invite all the DACS schools who have not been severely affected by Typhoon Pablo to come to the aid of the schools who have. Help by inviting the students you teach and their families to respond in God’s name to brothers and sisters and sister Catholic schools in need. Help by inviting your communities to consider the plight of the suffering in season of Advent, and consider making a an offering to help them. Help by calling on your friends and benefactors – in the Philippines and abroad – to consider helping our schools in need.

One can say Typhoon Pablo was a freak occurrence. A great part of its devastation was that the affected people have had little experience of the destructive power of typhoons. It is certainly not the sort of thing that one wants during the Christmas Season. Yet, considering what happened in Cagayan de Oro last year at this time as a result of Typhoon Sendong, we must be open ourselves to considering that these storms will no longer be freak, but part of a “new normal.” With climate change, it is not possible to predict when extreme weather occurrence will strike. Certainly, we must now wean ourselves from the attitude that no typhoons strike in Mindanao. With forests denuded and the soil undermined by mining, our areas may even be especially vulnerable to disaster.

For the long term, one can think of reforestation. One can also pray for a type of mining that might be called “responsible.”

For the short term, however, we must develop a DACS Protocol on Disaster Response. This would be a plan of how we commit ourselves to help one another in time of disaster.

Happily, each member school is not isolated, no matter how remote the school may be from the big cities. We are an association of 61 Catholic schools. We are part of the Dioceses of Digos, Davao, Tagum and Mati. We are part of a 1,200-school organization of the CEAP. We all have different situations and resources, but as Catholic educators, to borrow the words of Pope John Paul II, we all proceed ex corde ecclesiae, from the heart of the Church.

If we are not isolated, and if we are bound by the church communion of disciples of Jesus, we must not act isolated, especially in times of calamity.

In times of calamity, our maxim may be: mobilize to help one another. The more serious the calamity, the more effective the mobilization must be.

In time of calamity, the DACS office will be the hub of mobilization. The executive director will designate the officer in charge of the mobilization.

For the mobilization to be successful: good information is needed. Affected schools must as soon as possible get information to the DACS office. Tell us what has happened. Describe persons and property affected. Estimate damage in terms of pesos. Send DACS pictures. Most celfons now have cameras. Click and send to DACS.

The DACS office will communicate the need of the affected schools to the non-affected schools. We must be the first to respond to each others’ needs in solidarity – using our own resources and resources we can solicit from benefactors and friends. DACS will act as a clearing house for this sharing.

DACS will communicate information to the bishops, friends, benefactors, supports and media. It will beg for resources to help our affected schools.

DACS will receive donations in kind, cash, or through dedicated accounts such as DACS BPI Main Acct. No. 2081039081. It will issue official receipts.

It will disburse money through its Executive Commission. Today, that includes Msgr. Julius Radulfa, of Holy Cross College, Sr. Nanita Handugan OP, of San Pedro College, Sr. Martissa Viri., RVM., of the University of the Immaculate Concepcion, Fr. Joel Tabora of the Ateneo de Davao University, and Mr. Jimmy-loe de la Vega, Executive Director of DACS.

It will ask receipients to acknowledge receipt of the money and account for its use.

Reports to donors and to DACS will be prepared.

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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