DSWD turns down anew P40,000 cash request for each ‘Yolanda’ survivor

By Leilani S. Junio

MANILA, March 12 (PNA) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reiterated on Wednesday that it could not give in to the request of P40,000 cash for each of the typhoon “Yolanda” survivors made by members of the People’s Surge and the women’s group Gabriela.

According to DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman, the amount that the two groups are requesting cannot be granted because the department cannot easily disburse a huge amount of money since it is bound by certain rules.

“There are a total of 280,000 family-survivors of typhoon Yolanda. Giving them P40,000 each will mean that we have to give out almost P5 billion,” Soliman said.

She explained that since DSWD is being audited by the Commission on Audit (COA), the department will be held liable later on to account where that total amount of money goes.

She made the statements during a dialogue-meeting Wednesday afternoon with some representatives of the groups led by Sister Editha Espolor, chairperson of People’s Surge; Joan May Salvador from Gabriela, Monique Wilson, also a member of Gabriela, and One Billion Rising Philippines.

The dialogue was made at the DSWD Central Office in Barangay Batasan Hills, Quezon City.

According to Soliman, the DSWD is undertaking a lot of efforts to ensure the continuous and orderly distribution of relief goods to the typhoon survivors.

She humbly admitted she had received reports about those who have not yet received relief goods from their local governments, but she clarified that they are conducting monitoring and spot checks as a solution.

She said the DSWD has no enough manpower on the ground to closely monitor all aspects of the distribution because of the vast areas affected.

“We have provided text hotlines. They can text to 0920-9463766 and provide us the details so that we can evaluate and act on it immediately and conduct the necessary investigation,” she added.

She also urged the groups to help and cooperate with the department by providing them the list of names and locations of those they claimed have not received any relief goods.

She even offered the assignment of a DSWD officer to assist them in doing the follow-up with the local government units (LGUs) about their complaints to facilitate the distribution of relief goods if there is really a problem of not receiving them.

She clarified also that the provision of relief goods is being done by the Municipal Social Welfare Development Office (MWSDO) under the Local Government Code.

“Our role is to distribute them (relief goods) to MWSDO but we cannot make direct distribution under the law. We only do the direct distribution when we received reports that a certain municipality failed to distribute the relief goods, to augment,” she explained.

She also clarified that they are not releasing any tarpaulins announcing the stoppage of relief goods distribution.

“While it is true that by the end of March we will make an assessment as to who will still receive the relief goods, we have no official list as of now of who will not receive the relief goods, so I think those who put up the tarpaulins have the intention to create confusion among the survivors,” she added.

She also told the groups that DSWD never released relief goods that were not fit for human consumption as they placed all the goods such as canned goods and rice under strict quality control monitoring.

She added that DSWD will also conduct another set of Cash-for-Work (CFW) Program to cover a bigger number of beneficiaries from the families of survivors.

The CFW is an emergency intervention made by DSWD in coordination with the LGUs of “Yolanda”-affected provinces to provide a temporary income for the survivors.

Under the CFW, the beneficiaries receive a salary equivalent to the existing minimum wage in the affected region.

It is a preparation for the survivors to stand up on their own feet by doing works involving clearing of debris, tilling of land and building of bancas.

Soliman said those works are intended to prepare the farmers and fishermen to go back to normalcy by engaging in their former livelihoods like farming and fishing where they can earn decent income instead of relying on dole-out.(PNA)