DSWD to file raps vs 'Pablo' victims over relief goods looting-A A +A
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said Typhoon "Pablo" victims who ransacked the agency's office in Davao City on Tuesday will have to face the consequences of their protest.
"We respond to the exigency of public service at great cost to ourselves and our families. That we are now being subjected to harassment is deplorable. This will leave us no choice but to pursue legal action against those who are responsible," Soliman said in a press statement released at the website of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The DSWD chief also appealed to the leadership of Barug Katawhan, the group of Pablo victims who looted relief goods and sacks of rice, and its allied groups not to use the people for their own political agenda.
"We are willing to resolve these issues, and serve those who are in need. We need not engage in counter-productive propaganda war," Soliman said.
Thousands of Typhoon Pablo survivors ransacked the DSWD office in Davao City Tuesday, taking with them some 3,750 packs of relief goods.
Typhoon Pablo (international codename: Bopha) battered the Davao Region in December of last year, leaving at least a thousand people dead.
Soliman said the seized relief goods by the protesters had been allocated for victims of Typhoon "Crising" in Davao del Norte.
Soliman said Barug Katawhan had ignored the call of DSWD Regional Director Prescilla Razon to dialogue over the issue and opted to continue its protest outside the agency's office.
The Social Welfare Secretary had agreed to provide 10,000 sacks of rice to people that Barug Katawhan claimed to have been deprived of government service. Soliman, however, said that the group has yet to submit a list of beneficiaries and the distribution plan for the relief packs.
"What was submitted to DSWD was a list of repacking areas and the names of people who agreed to have these places used as distribution site. DSWD has checked with at least two of those in the alleged list, and they denied that they agreed to have their places used as repacking areas," Soliman said.
Meanwhile, a party-list lawmaker called on Congress to immediately investigate the alleged mishandling of calamity funds for the typhoon victims.
Kabataan party-list Representative Raymond Palatino said he will file a resolution calling on the House of Representatives to probe reports of corruption and mishandling of calamity funds and international aid for victims of typhoon Pablo.
Congress, however, is on a break for the May midterm elections and will resume session for only three days in June.
"What transpired was not looting but the result of DSWD's ruthless hoarding of relief. The organized retrieval of relief goods stored by DSWD is not only just but also the right thing to do. The people of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental have painstakingly waited for the goods to be distributed, but DSWD chose to turn a blind eye on the suffering of the people," Palatino said.
Palatino said several reports have shown that funds intended to provide relief and rehabilitation for Pablo victims are being "systematically siphoned" to the pockets of DSWD officials.
"This issue should be addressed immediately. There are lives at stake, and there are people that need to be held accountable," the party-list lawmaker said.
Palatino added that Barug Katawhan documented several incidents involving DSWD personnel selling relief packs to victims in Baganga, Davao Oriental at P200 each. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)