Editorial: Looting of relief goods-A A +A
Saturday, March 2, 2013
OFFICIALS of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should be commended for resolving peacefully the protest of victims of typhoon Pablo. The typhoon victims left the DSWD compound in Davao City on Feb. 28 after a dialogue with social welfare officials.
They started their protest on Feb. 25, then ransacked the DSWD office in that city and carted away sacks of rice and other stored relief goods the next day before riot policemen intervened. The protesters, who came from as far as Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, complained about the slow distribution of relief goods.
Even as DSWD retrieved the goods that the protesters carted away, the latter did not go home empty-handed, with the provincial government of Compostela Valley distributing 100 sacks of rice to them. Validation of the number of families that would receive the relief goods from DSWD would also be fast-tracked.
DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman had earlier blamed the lack of the list of typhoon victims as the reason for the slow distribution of relief goods. It thus looks like concerned officials still needed to be jolted by a dramatic action before they would do their job with dispatch.
That’s one lesson that DSWD and local government officials in calamity-stricken areas should learn. The other lesson should be learned by protesters, as looting is never justifiable.
There is reason for Soliman to believe that the ransacking of the DSWD office in Davao City was not a spontaneous act but was instigated by protest leaders, some of them not typhoon Pablo victims. Those leaders should be grateful DSWD officials in Davao chose to be understanding of their plight, or the looters could have been sued.
The typhoon victims would have ended up being victimized twice, by the storm and by the instigators of the looting.
There are calls, of course, to bring these agitators to court. That would be a good move if only to ensure that a similar act won’t be repeated. But if that won’t be done, then at least the typhoon victims should be admonished to be more civilized in the conduct of protests.
There are valid justifications for people to go to the extreme, like looting a government office. Those justifications were not present in the case of the DSWD office incident in Davao City.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 02, 2013.