DSWD explains why it ‘stopped’ Ecoweb
This is a reaction to Tito N. Fiel’s article titled “In Iligan City, red tape stops group from helping build homes.” (Inquirer, 3/25/12) Allow us to explain as to why Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits (Ecoweb) was “stopped” by the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 10 from processing the logs into lumber.
Fiel is a member of Ecoweb. He attended the reflection-dialogue and press conference held on March 23 at Acmac Stockyard in Iligan City and he was in the meeting of the Task Force on the Disposition of Recovered Logs held that same day. The conflict of interest that taints Fiel’s report is obvious in the biased way he wrote his report. Worse, he made our agency appear as if it were the villain.
Our staff joined the reflection-dialogue to explain to the participants our plans regarding the recovered logs and how these were to be disposed. The dialogue and press conference, hosted and facilitated by Ecoweb, were supposed to give everyone and every group, including the DSWD, an opportunity to explain their side of the issue on the recovered logs. Sadly, it now appears that Ecoweb had an ulterior motive in organizing that dialogue.
Allow us to point out that the DSWD is the owner and custodian of the logs that were donated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources last Dec. 23. For this reason, the DSWD has recorded these logs in its book of accounts. It holds itself accountable for these logs and is exercising utmost care in ensuring that these logs are used and disposed of properly.
Ecoweb has been operating at Acmac Stockyard without properly following protocols and processes – sawing, cutting, and labeling DSWD-owned logs without proper authorization. Immediately after discovering this, the DSWD ordered Ecoweb to discontinue its Acmac operations.
The DSWD follows a set of guidelines for the disposal and use of the logs. These guidelines have been approved by the Task Force on the Disposition and Utilization of the Recovered Logs, which is composed of representatives from the DENR, Department of Education, city government of Iligan, faith-based organizations, and nongovernment organizations.
Ecoweb sent a letter to the DSWD on Jan. 25, 2012, requesting that it be given logs for its shelter project which involves the construction of 300 houses for victims of Tropical Storm “Sendong.” By our own account and that of the Iligan City Environment and Management Office’s, this would mean giving all the logs at Acmac Stockyard to Ecoweb, to the exclusion of all other groups which have similar requests.
The DSWD Field Office 10 welcomes NGOs that are willing to help out in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts for Sendong victims, but it does not want any group with motives other than helping Sendong survivors to get these logs.
—ARACELI F. SOLAMILLO,
Department of Social Welfare and Development
I welcome the DSWD’s reaction to the article, but I maintain that it was a product of my interviews with barangay officials of Acmac, Iligan City during the reflection-dialogue. They felt that there was a delay in the disposition of the logs. The report was fair and balanced. In fact, it included DSWD’s statement.
—TITO NATIVIDAD FIEL,
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