News Release

FamNet Forum Discusses Disaster Response

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sponsored the Second Quarterly Forum of the Family Network (FamNet)  held last 29 June.  Response to natural and man-made disasters was the theme of the forum.  

The forum commenced with remarks by Ms. Lina B. Laigo, Chairperson of FamNet, who stated the need to strengthen cooperation among the member-groups as well as to improve their capacities in undertaking suitable and timely action to address the undesirable impacts on the psychological and social well-being of the victims of disasters.

The highlight of the forum was the presentation of Dr. Carlo Paolo S. Castro, “Managing the Psychological Consequences of Disaster.” Dr. Castro is a psychiatrist who has been involved with a number of efforts to rebuild communities hit by natural calamities as well as in reaching out to individuals adversely affected by armed conflicts. 

Dr. Castro took note of the inevitability of dealing with disasters in the Philippines considering its geographical circumstances and political conditions. Understanding the phases of disaster, according to him, gives the proper perspective in assessing and determining the appropriate reaction in such situations. As such, the duplication of aid from the non-government sector would be avoided.

He likewise talked on the Well-Being Framework which underscored the importance of a holistic outlook in identifying the needs of the victims of disaster – where provision of material goods is not only considered but also individual safety, participation, development and other rights are taken into account.   He also discussed the Cluster Approach in disaster response in the Philippines which showed the government agencies responsible for every affected sector as well as their non-government counterparts. 

He then related his own experience when he worked after Sendong wrecked havoc in several communities in Mindanao last year.   There he observed that psycho-social processing (PSP) is much more effective in attending to the needs of those who were affected by the floods rather than the commonly used stress debriefing.  

Through the PSP, Sendong victims were able to positively express their sentiments and to convey exactly what they wanted aside from those included in the relief packages. The usual stress debriefing seems to be detrimental to the well-being of the victims since this kind of approach focuses on the negative aspects of the trauma. Dr. Castro is convinced that the PSP would be a fine tool for social workers, volunteers and medical practitioners in assisting people in such circumstance to plan ahead and to focus on their capacities to get on with their lives after a tragedy.

The participants raised vital issues on the role of the government, particularly the local government units (LGUs). While the LGUs are mandated by law to make the initial disaster response, they are unable to fulfill such duty when the devastation is large scale considering that their responding groups are more likely victims of the disaster themselves. In this kind of situation, the support coming outside the affected communities is essential.

The issue of the rights and welfare of children being left out in disaster response was also discussed in the forum. Participants accentuated the necessity of constantly being cognizant of the interests of the children in disaster response, consistent with the international legal mandates. The forum concluded with suggestions on how to help children overcome the trauma brought about by calamities or armed conflicts. It was announced that the subsequent forum would focus on children. FamNet regularly holds a forum every quarter.  

Incidentally, the theme of the forum for this quarter conducted by FamNet corresponded with the seminars on Disaster Risk Reduction of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration  (PAGASA) in connection with the Typhoon and Flood Awareness Week. 

Miss Laigo took notice of the warm accommodation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the participants in the forum. The Church is one of the members of FamNet.  Others in the network include the Kaisahang Buhay Foundation, SOS Children's Village, Consuelo Foundation and other NGOs united in advocating, promoting and enhancing the quality of family life.


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