Church official proposes cash vouchers for flood victims-A A +A
Sunday, August 12, 2012
MANILA – People undertaking relief operations should rather issue cash vouchers than distribute relief goods to victims of monsoon rains and massive flooding, an official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Sunday.
Father Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action, said they told different dioceses to consider giving cash or vouchers and let the victims decide what they want from the diocese’s partner stores.
“The problem with relief goods is it’s a shotgun approach. Sometimes, you just go to an area without really knowing what the people need. You give them shampoo and toothpaste when the truth is they would rather receive more food such as rice,” Gariguez said.
He, however, said there is nothing wrong with the relief operations already being done by government agencies and other groups, including the CBCP itself.
Labor group Migrante, meanwhile, urged the government to consider reviving the defunct Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) general financial assistance program (GFAP) to aid some 200,000 families of OFWs affected by the deluge.
“The GFAP would provide economic relief in a form of cash to OFW families in time of calamities. OFWs, who are Owwa members, should easily avail (themselves of) GFAP in support of their families in the Philippines,” the group said.
In 2003, then Labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas shut down the program for supposedly not directly benefiting OFWs.
So far, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz ordered the release of P8.8 million for emergency employment for displaced workers in flood-hit areas.
These include Metro Manila as well as Central Luzon (Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Bulacan); Ilocos (Pangasinan); and Calabarzon (Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal).
The workers to be hired will be engaged in community clean-up activities, like clearing of debris and de-clogging of canals, sewers, drainage, and waterways clogged with garbage.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said the heavy rain and floods had affected 679,057 families or 3,067,500 people in 2,306 villages in 167 towns and 36 cities in 16 provinces.
Some half a million individuals are still in evacuation centers.
Sixty two out of the 85 flood-related deaths died of drowning while the rest succumbed to landslide, heart attack, falling tree and electrocution.
Estimated losses to property was at P604.63 million including P585.07 million in infrastructure and P19.56 million in agriculture.
Despite several days of inclement weather and rising floodwaters, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said both national and local government agencies were largely unable to mobilize enough resources to carry out expeditious rescue operations and provide sufficient accommodations for flood victims.
It also scored President Benigno Aquino III for blaming the victims for not seeking higher ground despite the flood warnings.
"These excuses are simply not acceptable to the Filipino people and victims of floods whose sufferings are worsened by the gross inability of the Aquino government to prepare and mobilize the people in the face of impending and ongoing calamities, as well at its failure to carry out the necessary measures to prevent such great floods," added the CPP. (HDT/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)