DSWD looks into distribution of spoiled goods
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is looking into the alleged distribution of rotten relief goods in some areas in Leyte, Malacañang said on Friday, March 21.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a news briefing that Social Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman is currently investigating the matter, as well as the "scope" of the alleged distribution.
"That is being investigated by Secretary Soliman and also the scope. Where did it happen, how massive it was, whose donation was it? So there will be an accounting on how did it happen, and also when those particular relief goods were given to the local government," Lacierda said, when asked about reports that spoiled relief goods were distributed in some areas in Leyte.
Asked whether some people would be sacked over the incident, Lacierda said this would depend on the results of the investigation.
"I think we have to first wait for the report to see and detail to us how that situation happened….So before we can lay our blame, we just want to know how did it happen, why did it happen," he said.
When asked, Lacierda said it would be up to Soliman to include in her investigation the dumping of relief goods in Palo, Leyte. The discarded relief goods were reportedly disposed as they were no longer fit for human consumption.
Some lawmakers have called for an investigation into the alleged distribution and dumping of spoiled goods in Leyte as such reports would likely taint the image of the Philippines as a recipient of international aid.
The Commission on Audit (COA) had earlier described as "crazy and chaotic" the Philippine government's aid and relief efforts following Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
Lacierda was also asked about version 2.0 of the Foreign Aid Transparency hub (FAiTH), which was unveiled at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday, March 20, and will be formally launched on April 25.
The earlier version, FAiTH 1.0, consisted of recording foreign aid and assistance to the Philippine government in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. Lacierda said foreign governments "sometimes choose to course aid through their own development agencies, or through other humanitarian organizations" and these were not reflected on the website.
The "zero" donations of 9 donor countries, as reflected in the FAiTH website, became a cause of concern for some diplomats as the tracker did not appear to reflect their actual pledges. (READ: PH lists 'zero' Haiyan aid from 9 donor-countries)
Lacierda explained that of the P25 billion in foreign pledges obtained by the Philippine government, it has received only P600 million.
"A bulk of that are channeled by the foreign government through their own development agencies or, for instance, Red Cross, which we do not track in the first version of the website," he said.
Lacierda also said that the P25 billion in pledges are just that – "pledges of assistance" – until converted to "cash or non-cash" assistance.
The Palace spokesman explained that under FAiTH 2.0, "foreign embassies will be given access to input and/or update assistance attributed to their countries on the portal."
"This includes updating the amount of assistance given, indicating whether this has been converted from a pledge into cash/non-cash assistance, and specifying all the organizations through which they have coursed aid – whether through the national government, or through others," he said.
He said the DFA will give embassies usernames, which they can use to update their contributions reflected in the FAiTH website. Access will begin on April 7.
"Version 2.0 will include the tracking of aid and assistance given to the national government. As had been announced previously, the Commission on Audit (COA), as an access observer, will audit the aid and assistance coursed through the national government," Lacierda said. – Rappler.com