Another 40 days of rage-A A +A
By Tyrone Velez
Thursday, February 28, 2013
TUESDAY saw another outrage from 5,000 Typhoon Pablo victims who came all the way from Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, camped out outside the DSWD office, and after being snubbed for a dialogue, stormed the office and took the relief goods in organized manner.
All this happened after a failed promise by the DSWD to deliver them 10,000 sacks of rice as many have still not received food relief and farms have been devastated. DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman made that promise to the victims who gathered as Barug Katawhan barricaded Montevista highway during a visit by government officials and aid representatives.
The standoff and promise happened 40 days after the disaster of Pablo. It’s been almost another 40 days now, and the same problem remains. No rice came for the victims. The first few kilos of rice they took home last January were even spoiled and unfit to eat.
DSWD set a condition that they be provided a list of the victims before they release the goods. The department doubted the rallyists were really typhoon victims. Barug leaders explained that giving the list of names may compromise their security since they have been harassed and filed cases by the military. They offered a proposal that they provide names of the areas for relief to be conducted with the presence of the department along with local officials to attest that the relief are given to victims.
This was a sound proposal, but why did the DSWD not budge to this? If they had compromised, perhaps none of the incident on Tuesday could have happened.
It was also learned that DSWD will cut off giving relief to victims by March 9. This perhaps drove the people more desperate.
Barug leader Karlos Trangia explained their outrage. For the past three months, many of them had only received three sets of relief, which consist of five kilos or less of rice and some food. In an interview with Davao Today, he said that 10,000 sacks of rice may not even last a month for all of them, but that is what they need for now, with the fact that their farms will take six months to harvest for them to eat. Hunger is looming in communities and where is government, the aid in millions that DSWD had received?
Instead of help, here we are, an angry group of farmers, women and children storming the department and end up beaten up by cops and threatened with arrests. An 11-year-old child and women are also beat up. All this is deplorable.
The DSWD is already it is besieged with charges of falsifiying liquidation reports and overpricing bunkhouses for the victims and this incident adds another wrinkle to their credibility.
As environment advocate Juland Suazo said, the DSWD violated the International Code of Ethics on Humanitarian Assistance through discrimination, by making “humiliating and mocking typhoon victims” and “passing to them the burden of getting the masterlist which should be the responsibility of DSWD and LGU.”
Actually this reflects the many things wrong with this daang matuwid government -- the bureaucracy, the corruption, the arrogance and discrimination they have on people as victims and not people they have to serve.
This is not over yet as the camp-out continues until they get what the government has promised. But the government remains callous.
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Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 01, 2013.