COVID-19 and the measures Governments are taking to slow the spread of the coronavirus are impacting many nations of the world. We would like to let you know how our brethren are affected in the Philippines.
The Philippine Government imposed an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Manila and then the main northern island of the Philippines in mid-March. Other parts of the country followed. The ECQ was due to be lifted in mid-April but was extended to the end of the April. It has now been extended to mid May for those areas that are categorized as high risk, which includes 12 ecclesial areas. For the those areas categorized as moderate to low risk, the restrictions have been down graded to general community quarantine (GCQ) until mid May, which will allow more people to return to work. There are nine ecclesial areas that are now under GCQ.
The ECQ has been more restrictive than the restrictions that have been applied here in Australia. All forms of public transport have been halted. Many have not been able to work because of the quarantine. For many no work means no money and therefore no food for their families. To address the needs of the population under the ECQ the Philippine Government has declared a state of calamity which requires Local Government Units to supply their population with relief goods. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen or is insufficient. There is also a social amelioration program that provides cash aid to low income households which is now being distributed.
- Tighter restrictions are in place than in Aus/NZ making it hard for Ecclesia to gain encouragement by meeting.
- Many either lack the technology or good internet connection which has allowed Aus/NZ Ecclesias to continue to communicate under restrictions
- Many members haven’t been able to work and therefore had no pay to support their families.
- Sunday School prizegivings would normally held around this time, and cannot be run.
- End of years Family Fraternals (Bible Schools), which is held in Dec. and alternated with the youth conference will be challenging.
To help brothers and sisters through these trying times, the ACBM on your behalf offered financial support to all Philippine ecclesias. Nine from twenty-one ecclesias requested assistance and a total of almost $7,000 has been provided to date.
The ecclesias have been very appreciative of this help. Following are some of the responses we have received:
… big help for the needy Brothers and sisters. … Thank you for your help and hopefully this crisis will nearly die down. We pray for the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In behalf of …. Ecclesia brothers and sisters I am thankfully grateful for reaching your help and care for our brethren here in the ecclecia, your are truly not only giving us spiritual needs, you are extending your arms to provide us with our physical needs especially in times of crisis.
The brothers and sisters are expresses their heartfelt thanks to the welfare assistance given by ACBM though Philippine Working Team. The brothers and sisters were very happy and some were in tears of joy at the relief they had received
We would like to thank you an quickly response of our email in address to our need as a welfare assistance for our members here in …. ecclesia, Once again thank you so much.
Like here in Australia, our brethren in the Philippines are generally not able to gather together for memorial meetings. Some Filipino brothers are posting their exhortations online for the benefit of those who can access the internet. For others with either limited or no internet access, they meet in their houses and do the daily readings for their memorial meetings. It’s wonderful to see how they have adapted to these current conditions even though they don’t all have access to the same technology as we have.
While the Philippine Government is providing some relief for its people, it is poorer and does not have the same health and welfare infrastructure that we have here. We don’t know how long the enhanced or general community quarantine will continue or what will be the extent of the economic impacts of COVID-19 on the Philippine brotherhood.