‘Pablo’ victims seek assurance of 10,000 sacks of rice from DSWD

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 January) — Five members of an alliance of victims of Typhoon Pablo from Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley visited Friday the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s regional office to seek assurance the agency would abide by the agreement on the distribution of relief goods.

The Barug members said they wanted to make sure the DSWD would keep its word to give 10,000 sacks of rice to the victims as agreed with Secretary Corazon Soliman agreed last Jan. 15.

Soliman made the commitment during the human barricade put up by some 5,000 members of Barug Katawhan in Montevista, Compostela Valley to express their dismay over the government’s manner of distributing relief goods.

Regional director Priscilla Razon and assistant regional director Mila Segovia met with the representatives of Barug Katawhan in Montevista, Compostela Valley led by Carlos Trangia.

Segovia said the DSWD “always keeps its commitments,” adding it is waiting for the Barug members to comply with nine conditions.

The agreement says the members shall provide a distribution plan, including the names of recipients and their addresses and the name of a responsible person who shall guarantee the safe distribution.

It adds the distribution shall be witnessed by representatives from the DSWD and provincial governments of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

As agreed, the release of rice will be done at the DSWD regional office depot, and Barug will acknowledge that the goods are from the DSWD and provincial governments, give a report after the distribution and ensure proper storage of the rice following safety standards.

The undated agreement does not indicate the quantity in each bag of rice.

The Barug members requested that each bag should contain 50 kilos of rice, and Segovia and Razon agreed with them.

Each victim will receive 10 kilos of rice each.

The Barug members said they are now in the process of completing the lists of recipients.

However, Segovia pointed out that they need to reconcile the records of beneficiaries to avoid redundancy in distribution.

Rolando Florencia, a Barug member, replied that reconciling of records should be done after addressing the hunger suffered by Pablo victims.

He said they joined the barricade because government relief goods had not reached their areas.

Cerila Anding, also a member from Barangay Poblacion, Compostela town said they had received relief goods from the DSWD only twice since Pablo.

But Razon said the government’s distribution of relief assistance was always up to date, citing that the victims had received food assistance enough for a week.

Enough supply

The DSWD has enough supply of rice, Razon told reporters, citing the recent donations from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for Pablo victims.

The USAID held Friday morning a ceremonial handover of donations amounting to P164 million or US$4 million.

The contribution, the USAID, said enabled the World Food Programme to purchase 3,400,000 kilograms of rice enough to feed 170,000 people for two months, and to roll out cash for work activities.

Turned over were a total of 1,750,000 kilograms of rice as an initial distribution, the balance of which is expected to be handed over in February.

Razon said donations for Pablo victims that were channeled through the DSWD had reached over a billion pesos already.

She cited that the donations included P595,000 for food assistance, P3 million for burial assistance, P24 million for cash for work, P100 million for Noche Buena packs, and P11.5 million for 21 bunk houses.

For her part, Anding said she was wary of the government’s promises. She noted that the assistance has not trickled down to the remote communities despite the huge amount of donations received by the government.

“Had we not protested, the government would not have heeded our calls for food assistance,” she added in Cebuano. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)