'LET'S HELP PH'. Pope Francis on Sunday urged Catholics to "provide concrete help" for the victims and survivors of typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. File photo by AFP / Filippo Monteforte

(RAPPLER.COM) Pope Francis on Sunday, November 10, asked Catholics to provide "concrete help" to the hundreds of thousands of people made homeless in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines, and to include them in their prayers.

More than 60,000 people joined the Pope in his own prayer for the victims during his traditional Sunday mass in St Peter's Square, a day after he had tweeted his solidarity with the Catholic Asian nation. (READ: Int'l celebs express sympathy for #YolandaPH victims)

The death toll from the super typhoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan) that wiped out entire towns in the Philippines could soar well over 10,000, authorities warned Sunday, making it the country's worst recorded natural disaster.

"Sadly, there are many, many victims and the damage is huge," the head of the Roman Catholic Church said, speaking from a third-floor window of the papal palace. "Let's try to provide concrete help."

Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Pope's right-hand man, said in a message to President Benigno Aquino that Pope Francis was "deeply saddened by the destruction and loss of life caused by the super typhoon (and) expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this storm and its aftermath."

"He is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and of those who have lost their homes," the message said.

"In praying for all the people of the Philippines, the Holy Father likewise offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this storm." Rappler.com

Get the latest info on the status of areas affected by typhoon Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan).

Help the victims of Yolanda. Visit Rappler's list of ongoing relief operations in your area. Tell us about your relief and recovery initiatives, email move.ph@rappler.com or tweet us @moveph.

Visit rappler.com/typhoon-yolanda for the latest updates on Typhoon Yolanda.

CBCP declares 8 days of mourning for 'Yolanda' victims

ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 11/11/2013 8:18 PM | Updated as of 11/11/2013 8:18 PM

MANILA -- The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) declared November 11 to 18 as days of mourning for the victims of typhoon 'Yolanda'.

According to Archbishop Socrates Villegas of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, all Masses held during the days of mourning will be offered for the victims of the typhoon.

Catholic churches will also offer a charity Mass for the victims in Visayas.

According to Archbishop Villegas, the typhoon may have caused a lot of damage and deaths, but this is not the time for Catholics to lose faith in God.

The CBCP also encourages everyone to cooperate and to unite in helping all the victims. -- with reports from Joanna Tacason, TV Patrol North Central Luzon

President's 'pork,' savings to fund Yolanda relief efforts BY CARMELA FONBUENA POSTED ON 11/09/2013 11:31 PM | UPDATED 11/10/2013 8:37 AM 6 Comments 177

ANARCHY. People started entering stores and homes just to get food, appliances, or anything they could get hold of to survive the day. Photo by EPA/Francis Malasig

MANILA, Philippines The government will tap the President's Social Fund (PSF) and savings to fund massive relief and rehabilitation efforts in provinces battered by super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).

"Id like to assure everybody. A number of calamities hit us man-made and natural. There's something like P16 billion in savings identified that can assist this," President Benigno Aquino III told reporters on Saturday, November 9.

Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang said the savings will come from various departments, but "we don't know how much we will spend because we don't have all the data in yet."

The government has set up a command center in Tacloban City, located in Eastern Visayas. A second command post is planned in Roxas City to cover Western Visayas.

Typhoon Yolanda came at the heels of the Zamboanga City crisis in September, the Bohol earthquake in October, and other typhoons that battered the country.

The President has committed P3.89 billion to rebuild Zamboanga City. There's also a P7 billion request for the Central Visayas provinces destroyed by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

The calamity and contingency funds are running dry, he has always said. Combined, they amount to only P1 billion.

Aside from the P20-billion savings, the President said the President's Social Fund (PSF) and Quick Response Fund of various agencies may be used.

Aquino said there's remaining P6 billion in the PSF, a fund that critics classify as a pork barrel and urged to be included in the budget law to remove its discretionary nature. (READ: Miriam wants 3 major funds out of Palace discretion)

"For the reconstruction phase, most of that would occur next year, wherein the new budget hopefully will have been approved and there will be new funding for the rehabilitation," Aquino said.

The President said reports coming in show that roads are impassable because of felled trees and electric posts. He said there are no reports of damaged bridges and roads so far. (READ: Land route from Manila to Tacloban now passable Mar) Rappler.com


Gov't helping exodus from Tacloban By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News Posted at 11/11/2013 7:51 PM | Updated as of 11/11/2013 7:51 PM

MANILA - There is now an exodus of people from Tacloban City following the devastation of super typhoon "Yolanda."

Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras revealed: "One of the requests yesterday is ang daming taga Tacloban na gusto umalis, to go to relatives."

"Since Saturday, we've been airlifting people. All they have to do is go to the airport, palista. Lots of tourists. Yung backhaul ng eroplano walang laman," he said.

He added that Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya is trying to organize buses that will bring people from Tacloban to Manila.

Almendras said turbo prop planes were allowed to fly again from Cebu to the Tacloban Airport, which was "walloped" by a storm surge.

San Juanico Bridge, which connects Leyte to Samar, was also opened to vehicular traffic . Travel by land from Tacloban to Ormoc City is still not possible since the roads have yet to be cleared.

Almendras said the government is bringing in more relief goods and water filtration equipment to Tacloban.

A team from the Department of Health has also arrived in the area with more resources.

The Cabinet official said there is ample supply of fuel though the pumps have been damaged and are without power. One gas station has been opened in Palo, Leyte while 3 more -including a temporary gas station - will be opened in Tacloban.

One thing government is working on is generators to help people charge mobile phone batteries as cellphone services slowly get restored.

Almendras said the Commission on Elections is lending generator sets to help supply power in the typhoon-hit areas.

He said people need to assure their relatives that they are alive. They also need to prepare for possible new typhoons.

"They need to reach out. They need food. They need water. Depending on the [low pressure area], if it passes through Tacloban, we need shelter. Good news with Tacloban di natumba lahat. There are still standing structures. We need to get ready for that," he said.

The Cabinet official said other storm-affected areas are more fortunate and were able to address the needs of those affected with prepositioned resources.

"We were checking on total rice inventory of NFA in affected areas. There's more than enough rice, 3 million sacks of rice."

The national government is moving to augment the actions of local disaster risk reduction councils.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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