Pablo victims, activists 'ransack' relief goods
DSWD hit for hoarding, slow delivery
MANILA (2nd UPDATE) – The office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Davao City was ransacked by survivors of typhoon Pablo and members of activist groups on Tuesday.
The survivors, many of whom came from Compostela Valley, spent Monday night outside the DSWD office requesting that the agency distribute 10,000 sacks of rice promised to them in January.
But on Tuesday morning, the survivors could not wait any longer.
“Desisyon na ‘yan ng mga tao. Alas onse na ang oras, wala pa ang DSWD,” said Karlos Trangia, spokesperson of Barug Katawhan.
They forcibly opened the gates and ransacked the office, stealing sacks of relief goods, rice and noodles.
Police failed to stop the group because they were outnumbered. But several people were arrested, including a woman who said she is member of the militant group, Anakbayan.
Balsa Mindanao executive director Francis Morales, meanwhile, alleged that the DSWD has been hoarding relief goods.
“Twice lang namigay, twice lang from the government of the Philippines since nangyari. There are areas na hindi nga umabot, kasi hanggang evacuation centers lang sila,” Morales told ANC’s “Top Story”.
Morales also said the survivors did not “ransack” the DSWD office, but only “confiscated” what was rightfully theirs.
“It’s not ‘ransack.’ Binawi lang ng mga tao ang what is rightfully belongs to them and should have been given to them efficiently and effectively. Failure of that system kaya naging ganoong ang survivors,” he said.
Dinky: Stolen goods were for 'Crising' victims
Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman, however, said the relief items taken by the survivors were supposed to be distributed to victims of tropical depression 'Crising,' which recently hit the Davao region.
“It’s not rightfully theirs, that’s for Crising victims going to Davao del Norte,” she told ANC.
Police were able to recover some of the rice sacks stacked outside the DSWD office.
Soliman lamented the incident, saying the survivors ignored the tables that were set up at the DSWD office in Davao to accommodate them.
“What did they do? No one went to those tables, they instead destroyed our gates, went inside and got what was rightfully for Crising,” she said.
Soliman added that the DSWD had been communicating with Balsa Mindanao for the distribution of the relief goods, but the group allegedly failed to provide a specific list of areas where help is needed.
“The group of Mr. Morales agreed that they will give us a list and areas where we can distribute, but they have not given this to us,” she said.
Charges will be filed against those behind the incident, which Soliman earlier described as “unfortunate.”
“We will file charges against the leaders dahil ito ay pagnanakaw. Ito ay paglalapastangan ng publiko na gusali,” she said.
Soliman also questioned the motive of the group, saying it would’ve been difficult for the survivors to travel from Pablo-hit areas to Davao without proper funding.
“Ang mga taong mahihirap nagagamit sa isang political agenda ng mga grupong ito. Nagugutom na nga ang mga tao, gagamitin pa natin. Kasi ang tanong ko, kung tunay na gutom at hindi na sila makakain, sino ang nagbayad sa kanila para pumunta ng Davao City?” she said.
Morales, meanwhile, said the group is ready to face the charges to be filed by the DSWD.
“See you in court,” he said.
A group of Pablo survivors from Compostella Valley barricaded the DSWD office in January also complaining about the slow distribution of relief goods. -- With a report from Hernel Tocmo, ABS-CBN News Davao