DSWD: Buried relief goods in Leyte found “not safe for human consumption”

By Leilani S. Junio

MANILA, Dec. 2 (PNA)– The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Wednesday that the reported relief goods buried in Dagami, Leyte were found to be in the category of not safe for human consumption.

DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman said that since they have the duty to ensure that disaster survivors will only receive safe relief goods, they decided to dispose the goods immediately.

“We wanted to make sure that these goods that were unfit for human consumption would not be given to the survivors as a way of protecting their welfare,” Soliman said.

Soliman admitted that based on their initial findings they had found that some DSWD personnel had comitted negligence and appeared to have failed to perform their jobs very well to ensure that the goods remained safe and would not cause any problem on the part of recipients.

“I have ordered a thorough investigation of the incident to find out who are liable and to file appropriate administrative charges against them, in accordance with civil service rules,” she said.

She shared that as an acknowledgment of the gaps and “human errors” in the Department’s capacity to manage relief good, she said that they had never stopped in exploring ways, together with DSWD supportive partners, by being open to several improvements which were already being done as part of lessons learned from typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

“This is why we continue to enhance our warehousing capacity,” she said.

She cited that proof of that was the current availability of new operational mechanized repacking system at the National Resource Operations Center (NROC) in Pasay City.

She said that the Department recently acquired that system in a healthy partnership with the World Food Program.

The project received a funding support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).

“The system enhances the capacity of the Department to repack 50,000 family food packs per day,” she added.

The packing system replaced the old ways in which the food packs were packed.

With the new packing system undergoing mechanical process, packing is faster and easier, more organized, safe and checking of expiration/availability in the storage areas are easy to monitor.

To complement that effort, she said, the department, in partnership with Australian government, will ground brake a new warehouse on Thursday at the NROC compound.

“The new warehouse will increase storage capacity from 200,000 to 270,000 packaged and unpackaged family food packs, and will provide safe storage for additional vital non-food items such as blankets, cooking implements, and mosquito nets, among others,” the DSWD Chief added.

In addition to that regional warehouses in all DSWD-Field Offices will also be constructed in partnership with the Australian Government.

Aside from that she also disclosed that Department will also construct regional island warehouses in Clark for Luzon and in Cebu for Visayas for easier accessibility and response during disasters.

At present, in the Mindanao island, the DSWD Davao warehouse is already operational.

She said that with modernized system of repacking in NROC and completion of capable and well-constructed warehouses at the field office level will assist a lot in responding to the need for a more efficient way of managing relief goods especially in times of disasters and other emergency situations.(PNA)