MANILA, Philippines – Seven senior citizens died in a flash flood in Tanay, Rizal, on Saturday, December 10, while they were on their way to claim their assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), at the local Land Bank branch. One child also died in the accident.
According to local responders, the jeep flipped over while crossing a river with strong currents, which were made stronger due to the low pressure area.
The responders said the jeep had a total of 25 total passengers.
“Lagpas a las tres, di po sila dapat tumatawid (After 3 pm, they shouldn’t have crossed),” DSWD secretary Erwin Tulfo said in an interview with DZBB on Monday, December 12.
“Malakas po yung ilog na yun in the afternoon, malakas na po yung ilog na yun kahit di pa po umuulan (The river current was strong in the afternoon, it was strong even before it even started raining),” Tulfo added.
The senior citizens came from a barangay two hours away from the town proper and had to cross at least seven rivers to claim their financial assistance of P1,000, which is part the DSWD’s social pension program.
Tulfo said the police were still investigating the incident. “We are still investigating the driver, what happened, and why he forced the trip despite the conditions,” he said in Filipino.
The DSWD is giving P10,000 cash assistance and paying for the funeral expenses of the seven seniors and child who died in the accident.
Rappler reached out to the DSWD to ask about improving distribution of social pension benefits to residents living in far flung areas, but has not yet received a reply as of this posting. – Rappler.com