By Leslie Ann Aquino
A Catholic prelate backed the order of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to set up checkpoints in earthquake-affected areas in Mindanao.
Ozamis Archbishop Martin Jumoad said that although the move might delay the delivery of relief goods, he believed that it was necessary because Mindanao was a “risky place”.
“Mindanao is a risky place. We have to understand what the military is doing. Damn if you do and damn if you do not do,” he said in an interview.
“There are always difficulties encountered when we do something. But there are measures to ensure orderliness and peace,” added Jumoad.
He said: “It may delay the help but better do something to ensure safety and peace.”
In his November 2, 2019, Martial Law instruction No. 2, Lorenzana directed the AFP to set up check points in areas affected by the series of earthquake in Davao Del Sur and North Cotabato.
“The check points shall control and screen the ingress and egress of people in evacuation centers to ensure that only legitimate and authorized relief workers are granted access to evacuation centers, and receive relief goods and supplies for distrubution to the evacuees,” read the instruction.
For Episcopal Bishop Rex Reyes, the order was “unfortunate.”
“Our country is faced with a humanitarian situation. Humanitarian service goes beyond religion, political beliefs and race because the sole motivation to respond is compassion and mercy,” he said in a statement dated November 4.
“Setting categories of what is ‘legitimate and authorized’ giver or receiver neither empowers local government officials nor gives the Department of Social Welfare and Development space to perform its mandate,” added Reyes.
Martial law or not, he said humanitarian aid to all in need was a true mark of a magnanimous and upright government.
Reyes expressed hope that the Defense Secretary will rescind his order.