(Updated) DSWD Letting Relief Goods Rot in Warehouse, Accuses Blogger
“Ella Rose” wrote yesterday accusing the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) of incompetence, posting photos of “relief goods rotting in DSWD warehouses”. The site where she made the accusation, ellaganda.com, has since been taken down. But dementia recently posted a screenshot of Ella’s post, saved from Google’s cache.
Click on the thumbnail below to see the complete post of Ella Rose:
Here’s the main point of her post:
Kahapon, tinanong ng Philippine News si DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral:
Editor of Philippine News: Why are the relief goods in DSWD warehouses not moving?
DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral: Wala kasing volunteers.
This short interview was done over the phone. Philippine News wanted to hear her side pero ayaw niyang makipag-usap sa press. After four tries, pinasabi na lang niya ang maikling sagot na ito sa secretary niya – “Walang volunteers”.
I don’t want to accuse her of corruption but at the very least she is showing signs of being totally incompetent. We are in a state of calamity where every second counts. May namamatay araw-araw dahil sa sakit.
Currently, as I write this, people are spreading news and opinions about this alleged incident online, sharing through Plurk, Multiply, Facebook, and of course, Twitter. As Manuel Quezon III said on Twitter: “Notice the entry does not allege actual pilfering or stealing, only inefficiency.”
Note the word “allege”: There’s currently no evidence showing that whatever Ella wrote is true. Either she simply posted pictures of relief goods stacked up in the DSWD warehouse, or has really uncovered a case of government inefficiency. Whatever the case, I’ll refrain from drawing any conclusions pending confirmation.
Ella Rose also maintains another site, ellarose.wordpress.com. Here’s her video “welcoming” visitors to that blog:
Update 1: Mikey Arroyo Calls for Volunteers to Help out at DSWD Warehouse
Through his Twitter account:
DSWD now looking for volunteers to help in packing relief goods in their warehouse. Contact Ms.Fabian, Head of Nat Resource OpCen at 8528081
DSWD Relief goods: contact Ms. Fabian or Ronald Reonal 8528081 – number verified
Update 2: DSWD Chief Denies “Rumor”
According to GMANews:
But DSWD chief Esperanza Cabral denied hoarding relief goods at their central office warehouse at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal II in Pasay City.
“I don’t know where this rumor is coming from,” Cabral told GMANews.TV in a phone interview Friday.
According to her, it is impossible for relief goods to be rotting inside the warehouse since they do not store perishable items. She said the warehouse, a complex of five buildings, only stores rice, clothes, non-food items and canned goods.
“Walang nabubulok. Stocks yun na hindi perishable (Nothing is rotting. Those stocks are non-perishable), ” she said.
Cabral also explained the alleged photos being circulated with the blog that shows towering boxes of supposed relief goods merely gathering dust in the warehouse. She said the warehouse is now filled with stock piles of donations with the outpouring of donations from various individuals and groups at the height of Ondoy and Pepeng.
Cabral said the stockpiles are to be used in case Typhoon Ramil causes a disaster. Ramil was earlier forecast to hit northern Luzon on Sunday and was already causing rains in the area on Friday. She also said they cannot release the relief goods right away since they need to check on the items and make inventory.
“This takes two to three hours to do,” she said.
Update 3: Blog Wasn’t Taken Down; It Simply Couldn’t Handle the Traffic
ellaganda.com is back! See the original post here. The blogger explains why it disappeared:
Please bear with me. I’m trying to fix my site. It went all crazy. Siguro dahil sa sobrang dami ng traffic, hindi nakayanan ng powers ng site ko. My apologies to everyone.
Update 4: Rocked Takes Action, Will Send Volunteers to Help With DSWD Goods
Update 5: Philippine News Reporter Shares What Happened During Call to DSWD
From the original blog post, Beting Dolor of the Philippine News shares her side:
My name is Beting Dolor and I am a columnist and contributing editor for US-based Philippine News. I have been with this paper since 2002.
I was the one who called DSWD four times to try and get their side. I was told that Sec. Cabral was 1) at a meeting, 2) interviewing applicants, 3) in the comfort room, and 4) about to leave for Pampanga.
It was her office secretary who relayed to me her message that there are not enough volunteers.
I wrote my piece for Philippine News because I was disturbed by the relative inaction of the department. The Philippines is under a state of calamity. As such, action is needed now, not tomorrow.
The hundreds of thousands of displaced Filipinos need all the help they can get. They cannot wait.
In times like these, I expect the DSWD to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The DSWD says there are not enough volunteers. I disagree. There are tens of thousands of Filipinos willing to help. The DSWD should have gone to the schools to ask for volunteers. There are countless employees in the private sector willing to help. The DSWD could have asked the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police to help.
I expect the department to take a more pro-active rather than a reactive stance. I expect the secretary to DEMAND that everyone help out. Lest we forget, human lives are at stake.
The victims are dying by the score everyday. It’s in the news.
As for the rotting of the goods, we all know that it is not only food that can rot. So, too, can clothes, canned goods, biscuits, blankets and everything else that can be found in the DSWD warehouses.
Time is of the essence. The food that the DSWD hands out today will be forgotten tomorrow. Believe it or not, the victims still need to eat every day. Three square meals, if possible.
Finally, the hoarding of the relief goods for future calamities does not make sense. We have just undergone the worst calamity in 40 years. Does the DSWD plan to keep those goods for the next four decades?
Distribute them now, not tomorrow, not next week, not next month.
Agreed, Madame Cabral?
Update 6: DSWD Secretary Cabral Responds
Also from the original blog post
tatement of Dr. Esperanza Cabral on the issue of relief goods in the DSWD Warehouse
October 23, 2009
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) manages the National Relief Operations Center (NROC) which is the facility for processing and storage of relief goods that are purchased by the Department or donated to us by generous individuals both here and abroad. The relief goods are released to our Regional Offices or directly to evacuation centers or to the local government units as they are needed and requested by these entities. They are delivered in trucks, many of which were lent to us by private companies or by military vehicles. Some of the goods are shipped by air from nearby Villamor Airbase.
When typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng hit the country, we received and are continuing to receive donations. Our warehouses are indeed full, inspite of the fact that we have distributed 500,000 food packs and 200,000 clothing packs as well as thousands of sacks of rice, blankets, beddings, and items of personal hygiene in the past almost 4 weeks. That is the reason why when asked if we still have enough goods, my constant reply is yes, so far we do, thanks to the many kind-hearted individuals and organizations as well as countries who responded and are still responding to the plight of the typhoon victims.
There are no rotting relief goods in our warehouses as we do not keep perishables there and the relief goods that are there, save for the donated old clothes are quite new since they have been either recently purchased by us or have been just donated.
Our goods are repacked by volunteers who are there because they want to help. But they are volunteers and report when they have time to help us. Sometimes there are two hundred of them and sometimes there are only a dozen. However many or few they are, we appreciate their presence and their assistance. Weekdays are usually quiet but on Saturdays and Sundays, the students, along with others who work Monday to Friday, including our own employees, are there.
Our staff at the warehouse work round the clock even now, making sure that the requests for relief goods are met in a timely manner. They work hard, they work quietly and they work humbly and I feel bad that they have been subjected to public vilification that they do not deserve.
I do not recall having talked to an Editor of Philippine News. I do remember my secretary telling me that someone was on the phone asking why there were no volunteers working at the warehouse. My reply was we do not own the time of the volunteers.
I wish that I could have prevented the deaths from typhoons but in fact, they have nothing to do with the relief goods that we are in charge of. Most of the deaths were from drowning or injuries sustained during the typhoon. Some died of illnesses. We are not in charge of rescue nor are we in charge of health and to the best of my knowledge, none of the deaths was due to absence of or delay in the delivery of relief goods.
We would like to assure all of you that the relief goods will reach the intended beneficiaries as they become necessary and will be used only to assist them. However, the relief goods don’t all go out at the same time and an empty warehouse is not proof that the goods were used properly just as a full warehouse is not evidence that the goods are being hoarded. If you visit our website http://www.dswd.gov.ph you will find updates on our activities related to typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. It includes an updated list of donations received and goods released from the DSWD warehouse.
There are many aspects of disaster response. They include recovery and rehabilitation and in both instances, goods and other resources are still needed. In the initial reaction to a calamity, people will want to help and as we saw recently, they came in droves, offering their time, their talent and their resources. We want them to know how much we appreciate them for what they have done and what they are still doing. But further down the road, when the initial flush of generosity gives way to donor fatigue, there will remain only a few hardy NGOs and volunteers and the workers of the DSWD and other government agencies to continue the job of helping the disaster victims back on their feet. Judicious use of resources at the outset is imperative lest we face the situation of even greater want after a period of relative plenty. We at the DSWD wish to assure you that your trust in us is not misplaced. Thank you.
This entry was posted on Friday, October 23rd, 2009 at 3:41 pm and is filed under Featured, Rumors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.