DSWD apologizes for spoiled relief goods in Boracay

AKLAN, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) apologized for distributing spoiled relief goods to residents of Boracay, which remains closed to tourists as it undergoes rehabilitation.

Boracay residents earlier turned to social media to express dismay over rice with insects, as well as possibly expired canned goods.

These relief goods were allegedly part of 2,760 family food packs given to beneficiaries in Barangay Balabag last June 16.

"We do not want this happening.... It is not acceptable because we [give] paramount importance to the welfare of the people," said DSWD Regional Director Rebecca Geamala in a statement.

According to Geamala, the contamination happened during the handling and hauling of relief goods.

"Our warehouse staff as well as personnel who are assigned during hauling and delivery were already given tall orders to ensure the quality of goods that we are releasing and that this must not happen again," she added.

Geamala earlier said the DSWD does not distribute expired relief goods for Boracay residents.

Groups such as Rise Up Aklan and We Are Boracay had urged the DSWD to look into the incident, saying that receiving spoiled relief goods is "unacceptable."

"It not enough to exchange the spoiled relief packs with new ones," said Rise Up Aklan provincial coordinator Kim-sin Tugna.

Road completion

Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, head of inter-agency Task Force Boracay, said construction of Bulabog Road in the eastern side of the island will be completed in two weeks.

The 12-meter-wide Bulabog Road is intended for delivery trucks and vehicles, so that these will not have to pass through the main road.

"Maluwag at madadaanan na itong Bulabog Road within the next two weeks. 'Pag nasemento na, isasarado na ang main road at doon tayo sa likod dadaan. 'Pag matapos itong main road, magugulat ka pagpasok mo sa Boracay mula Cagban," he said.

(Bulabog Road will be wide and passable within the next two weeks. When it's cemented, we will close the main road and traffic will be rerouted to [Bulabog Road]. When the [construction] of the main road is completed, you'll be surprised when you enter Boracay from Cagban.)

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is hiring 4 contractors to fast-track the construction of the 5.2-kilometer main road from Cagban Port in Manoc-Manoc to Balabag in July.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier released P490 million for the rehabilitation of Boracay roads, while P50 million from the national budget was allotted for the improvement of the Boracay Circumferential Road.

Boracay was officially closed to tourists on April 26, after Duterte ordered its 6-month shutdown due to environmental problems. (READ: INSIDE STORY: How Duterte decided on Boracay closure– Rappler.com