Red Cross withdraws in word war with Bohol mayor
MANILA - The Philippine Red Cross on Thursday said it will no longer entertain questions about its ongoing row with Maribojoc, Bohol Mayor Leoncio Evasco who drove out Red Cross workers distributing aid in the town.
Edison Enriquez of the Philippine Red Cross communications department said what is needed is "to focus on the urgent humanitarian concerns of those affected by the earthquake than engage the mayor in a meaningless verbal tussle in the media."
"The Philippine Red Cross will continue to provide assistance to the most vulnerable in all afflicted areas including Buenavista, Sagbayan, Tubigon, Catigbian, Clarin, Calape, Loon, Anteguera, and Maribojoc, inspite of the Mayor’s attitude towards our volunteers," he said in a statement.
The Red Cross earlier accused the mayor of insisting on turning over the relief goods to the local government, which the group opposed because it is against Red Cross policy.
Evasco, however, said he was only after the fair distribution of the relief goods since some families were getting more than their share.
He also accused the PRC volunteers of arrogance for failing to coordinate their relief activities with him. The mayor has continued to bar Red Cross volunteers from distributing relief goods in the town.
PRC chairman Richard Gordon earlier said the Red Cross will not give relief goods to the mayor.
"If he does not like it, let him be the one to explain to his constituents," he said in an interview over dzRH.
In a statement, PRC said that based on its policy, “relief assistance should be given directly to beneficiaries of a disaster by our staff and volunteers and not through other organizations and entities such as the local government.”
It said that following such procedure is "consistent with our guiding principles of independence, neutrality and impartiality."
Secretary Sonny Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office earlier said there is an existing structure in times of crisis headed by the local Risk Reduction and Management Committee – led by Evasco himself.
The Palace did not take sides, but made an appeal to the two parties to foster better coordination to ensure better service to the people of Bohol.
"Hindi madaling sumagot ng black and white at malayo tayo sa ground at nandito sa opisina, baka theoretical ang sagot. Sa ground, may dynamics na nagaganap dun. Anuman yun, di dapat maantala pa yung paghatid ng tulong," said Coloma.