DSWD Region VIII denies expired Yolanda relief
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — A year after super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), some survivors from Tacloban continue to recount tales of expired relief goods, an allegation that persists despite repeated denials by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region VIII Field Office.
“Ang ilan sa mga de lata ay expired na,” said Teresita Villamirno, kagawad of Barangay New Kawayan. “Minsan naman, wala nang balat, kaya ‘di makita expiration date.”
(Some of the canned goods are already expired. Sometimes, the labels are gone, you can’t see the expiration date)
She added that some of the clothes included in the relief goods were quite tattered, some with torn sleeves, and shared how some residents received noodle packs which were already opened.
“Sana ‘di na lang ipinamigay kung expired. Kasi baka nagdulot pa ‘yan ng sakit (I wish they didn't distribute the goods if they were expired. Because it might made people sick),” said Barangay Captain Rafael Manhuyod, who confirmed hearing such reports from his constituents.
These claims were echoed by other survivors living within the “40-meter no-build zones” in other barangays. A fish vendor from Anibong claimed that some of the relief goods they received from DSWD were about to expire. “Kumbaga, ilang araw o buwan na lang (It was only a matter or days or months),” he said.
“Wala kami (We don’t have) expired goods distributed and no report we received,” Resty Macuto, DSWD FO VIII Assistant Director for Operations, told Rappler via text message on Wednesday, November 5.
Macuto added that the regional office delivered all food packs to the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO).
The supplies were purchased by the DSWD Central office, the Region VIII Field Office, and some were from donations, according to Macuto. “Some goods are from nearby regions which augmented Region VIII,” he added.
The Department's Central Office reported that it distributed over 4.6 million family food packs from November 2013 until the 3rd week of June 2014. The packs consisted of rice, canned goods, noodles, and instant coffee.
In total, DSWD reported to having spent more than P575 million in food assistance for over 50,000 families.
The DSWD Region VIII Field Office denied such allegations, however, DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman already admitted lapses in Yolanda relief in September. She acknowleded that 7,000 food packs, costing P2.78 million ($62,775), got wet because they were not properly covered and were delayed in the docking. (READ: Yolanda relief 'crazy')
Meanwhile, other residents were thankful of DSWD’s efforts. “Nakatulong din ito (It also helped),” some mothers said. although many wished that the distribution of relief goods went beyond 6 months.
Unfortunately, without proper documentation, the issue may remain an incessant case of he said-she said. But critics say that the contrast among the involved parties' claims may have a message in itself. – Rappler.com
For Rappler's full coverage of the 1st anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), go to this page.