Human irresponsibility to blame for Manila deluge, say churches

By

Brenda Still

Philippine church leaders have blamed “man’s sins” as the cause of massive floods following a tropical storm that claimed more than 240 lives and adversely affected almost two million people.The floods submerged most of metropolitan Manila and neighbouring provinces following the nine-hour storm “Ketsana” on Sept.26, locally known as “Ondoy.” The damage was “primarily caused by man’s sins of social irresponsibility, neglect, opportunism, laziness and lack of vision,” Bishop Benjamin Justo of the United Methodist Church told Ecumenical News International on Sept. 30.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chief Bayani Fernando listed poor city planning, illegal structures and geography as the major causes for the floods. “Our problem is we live where we should never have lived,” Fernando told reporters.

Bishop Justo laughed off the suggestion that Manila and other flood-prone provinces each needed some kind of a “Noah’s Ark” to rescue residents during storms. “What we need is a spiritual ark mindset,” he said.  “There’s no substitute to lasting measures such as massive drainage systems, mass education for preserving forests, proper waste-disposal and the like.”The National Council of Churches in the Philippines, a grouping of mainly Protestant churches, has documented cases of drainage systems being clogged with tons of garbage, mostly plastics. It said the floods could hardly recede because of the blocked waterways.  Still, the biblical story of Noah’s Ark “could give us a lesson or two in disaster-preparedness,”  the Rev. Tong Kong Ng, a minister from the Mississauga Southern Chinese Baptist Church in Toronto, Canada who was visiting the Philippines.”That Noah built his ark for 40 years gives us a clue on long-term urban planning,” Rev. Ng said.

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