Partnership for disaster response formed in Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 December) — Learning from experiences with rescue and relief operations for the victims of typhoon “Pablo,” eight private organizations have forged a partnership that aims to deliver immediate response to local disasters, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Davao City chapter said Wednesday.

Aileen Lourdes Lizada, secretary of the PRC Board of Directors, said in a press conference here the eight organizations committed to join the partnership during an initial meeting last December 21 initiated by the PRC.

She, however, clarified that instead of cash they will offer things and services in times of disaster based on the nature of their businesses or organizations.
For instance, a school on culinary arts may provide volunteer chefs to join a disaster response team, while restaurants may provide scrap meat and excess ingredients, and bakeries some bread supplies, she explained.

Lizada added that some individuals were open to lending their 4×4 vehicles to response teams in their relief operations.

“We learned that it was during the first three days since typhoon Pablo made landfall that many people would die and many could also be saved,” she said.

She cited that during this crucial period volunteer chefs could cook food for the victims instead of giving them uncooked items, as cooking would be difficult on the part of the latter.

Lizada said the PRC is inviting more organizations to join, and that another partnership meeting will be held on January 30 at the PRC Millennium Building, Manuel Roxas Avenue here.

She pointed out that with the partnership, all kinds of help for disaster victims could be maximized through a system that will be prepared for the city, including blood supplies and relief goods.
Also proposed in the meeting was to link up with local hospitals to maintain a support desk for disaster victims, she said.

Rogelio Aca Jr., PRC Davao City chapter administrator, said the partnership is important for the city to avoid being reactive only in times of disaster.

“If we are prepared with the people’s concerted effort, the city will not be too much affected by any disaster,” he added.

He cited that since December 5, the PRC had distributed 25,000 beneficiary cards to avoid duplication of relief assistance.

Twenty six truck loads of relief goods had been coursed through the PRC for Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental typhoon victims, including 200 tents for each province, he said, adding some 200 PRC volunteers from the city were deployed in the two provinces.

Tax-exempt

Lizada showed to reporters a copy of Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 59-2010 of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, signed on April 20, 2010 that provides tax exemptions for the PRC and its donors.

The memorandum circular was provided for in Sections 5 and 6 of Republic Act No. 10072, an act recognizing the PRC as “an independent, autonomous, non-governmental organization auxiliary to the authorities of the Republic of the Philippines in the humanitarian field.”
It states: “All donations, legacies, and gifts made to the PRC to support its purposes and objectives shall be exempt from the donor’s tax and shall be deductible from the gross income of the donor for income tax purposes or from the computation of the donor-decedent’s net estate as a transfer for public use for estate tax purposes.”

“Epal” ban

Aca stressed the PRC won’t allow politicians to use the PRC activities for political gains, a practice now widely known as “epal”.

“We will not entertain them as it runs counter to our principle. We will talk to them properly. We are only following orders from the national office,” he said.

He added that educating the communities with the help of the media can prevent politicians from taking advantage of the relief operations. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)

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