Account for relief aid—DSWD told
It was disconcerting to hear Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman’s announcement that relief operations in Supertyphoon “Yolanda”-devastated areas will end in December. This was made amid reports about the inexplicably inadequate amount of government relief assistance reaching typhoon victims.
Partido Lakas ng Masa has sent a number of relief caravans to Samar and Leyte, specifically to Tacloban City, Palo, Tanauan and Abuyog (all in Leyte); and to Borongan and Salcedo in Eastern Samar. Our relief teams reported that the people of Samar and Leyte continue to suffer from hunger and deprivation due to lost homes and livelihood; that government relief effort is at best slow and chaotic, and without organization and coordination with barangay leaders; that the goods from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, transported by military trucks, are usually dumped by the roadside; that rice supplies from the DSWD are insufficient, while some are already rotten; that there is an impending starvation and scarcity of water in the devastated towns; that while DSWD people are nowhere to be seen, the local government units have been hoarding goods and distributing relief only in trickles.
Hence, Secretary Soliman’s announcement that the relief distribution is ending soon “so the people can stand on their own feet” is cold, heartless and cruel. Our visits to the devastated areas have made it clear to us that the relief effort alone, intending to feed and shelter the survivors, not including the rebuilding and rehabilitation of damaged communities, will take at least six more months. Two months will not be enough to rebuild the broken lives of the people in Yolanda-ravaged areas.
These reports came from the survivors themselves. In Abuyog, Leyte, they said the DSWD distributed only one kilo of rice per household since the disaster. The municipal government, for its part, distributed only three kilos of rice, after promising five kilos per family. In Salcedo, Samar, the barangays are merely asked to submit relief proposals by the municipal government.
From the government, and specifically from Secretary Soliman, we demand the following:
• A full report on the relief operations done by DSWD in Samar, Leyte and other towns and communities hit by Yolanda;
• An accounting of all relief goods, funds and materials that the DSWD has received from foreign donors and where they have been distributed, and whether they have reached the intended beneficiaries;
• The opening of warehouses to verify reports of rotting relief goods and of quality goods being replaced with substandard ones;
• And finally, the involvement of people’s organizations and civil society in the planning and implementing of the relief, rebuilding and rehabilitation of the typhoon-devastated communities.
chair, Partido Lakas ng Masa,
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