Barug calls for Soliman's ouster-A A +A
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
AROUND 60 members of the Barug Katawhan staged a rally in front of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Davao Region Tuesday to call for the ouster Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman.
Borough Katawhan claimed that DSWD proved its self incapable of implementing the relief and rehabilitation operations for the Typhoon Pablo victims and that the human barricade staged by the residents themselves "was a strong testimony against the Aquino government's failure to respond to the real needs of its people."
Barug Katawhan was also the same group that demanded the release of some 10,000 sacks of rice which the DSWD has not acted upon.
The protesters, who picketed the DSWD office along Chavez St. for two hours Tuesday, accused Soliman of conniving with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in its counterinsurgency for asking the same of the rice recipients, mismanaging the P18 billion calamity fund and international aid, overpricing the bunk houses, selling relief packs for P200, forging laborers' signatures under the cash-for-work scheme and underpaying cash-for-work laborers, among others.
"The January 15 protest was a collective people's action to break the silence and free ourselves from the chains of victim-blaming. We justly asserted for our basic rights to food and shelter," read the handouts distributed by Barug Katawhan to the media.
Barug Katawhan was referring to the human barricade it staged with Typhoon Pablo victims along the Montevista road last January 15 to demand the release of the 10,000 sacks of rice.
DSWD Davao Director Priscilla Razon denied the allegations hurled by the militant group, saying these were baseless.
"We believe in the leadership of Secretary Dinky. She has really led DSWD with passion and transparency. We also adhere to the principles of accountability to the public," Razon told Sun.Star Davao.
Razon also justified the distribution plan they are asking from Barug before the government agency releases the 10,000 sacks of rice. The list, she said, has nothing to do with the military and the list was merely to identify the people that will be given rice packages.
"Ten thousand sacks of rice is equivalent to P1.2 million and that's a lot of money. So we have to explain where the rice will go and we have to know that they are legitimate victims of Typhoon Pablo. We do this to anyone who will be given benefits. Even Bello Tindasan, one of the leaders of the militant group, signed the letter approving the request of list," Razon said.
"The P18-billion calamity fund is baseless since our rehabilitation program for the Pablo-stricken areas are only P9.3 billion. We don't know how they came up with the P18-billion calamity fund. I also don't believe that they have only received relief goods twice since the relief operations are still ongoing," she added.
She also refuted the accusation of the militant group that DSWD overpriced bunkhouses worth P550, 000 compared to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) bunkhouses worth P200,000.
"We are yet to get the results of the comparative study between our bunkhouses to the IOM's. But the bunkhouses of IOM don't have kitchens and bathrooms while our models have complete facilities," Razon said.
Barug Katawhan also said there were relief workers who sell relief packs for P200 based on the complaints from Lumads in Baganga, Davao Oriental.
Razon said this was her first time to receive such report. She also challenged the militant group that if there were indeed relief workers who are selling relief packs, they should be able to point them out.
On the alleged forging of signatures, Razon explained: "The release of the payment for the cash-for-work is one on one so we cannot just forge the signatures of the workers. For those who were not paid full for the cash-for-work, our budget is P2,600 10 days so some of those who complained may have just worked for seven days."
She went on to challenge members Barug Katawhan to get their facts straight and provide the list of possible recipients of the 10,000 sacks of rice so that the issue will finally be settled.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 13, 2013.