‘Aid misused’

Bloc pushes probe of mishandled donations, food losses

Several lawmakers led by members of the House Independent Minority Bloc are pressing for a congressional probe of the mishandling of donations and food aid intended for victims of super typhoon Yolanda which have been coursed through the Social Welfare and Development department.

At the same time, the Bloc’s leader Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte expressed dismay over the failure of the House leadership to act on bills and resolutions filed by his group that would speed up the government’s rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts for Yolanda-ravaged  areas.

“It is only disappointing though that most of our bills have not been even scheduled for deliberations in the committee level.  Considering most of these measures are focus on the plight and condition of our countrymen who suffered from the wrath of natural calamities; typhoon Yolanda, onslaught of floods caused by Habagat, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake which destroyed billions of properties in Bohol and Cebu provinces, the siege of Zamboanga which left homeless hundreds of families there, and so on,” Romualdez said.

Romualdez’s renewed call for the probe drew the support of Makabayan bloc’s Rep. Terry Ridon who nudged the Aquino administration to respond to the needs of the survivors of the killer typhoon.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.  on Saturday vowed to take action on the probe and other measures when session would resume in July.

Due to time constraints, Belmonte said, the leadership was not able to act on the bills and resolutions that called for stepped-up efforts on rehabilitation of  areas destroyed by  Yolanda.

House Deputy Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales said  the chamber has adopted a motion during Friday’s sine die adjournment to conduct hearings even while the House is on recess.

This motion would pave the way for the House to conduct business  including investigations especially on matters pertaining to national importance, said Ilocos Sur Rep. Rodolfo Farinas.

One of the bills filed by the Bloc was the proposed P25 billion additional calamity and rehabilitation fund for the Yolanda survivors.

Another measure authored  by Romualdez was the proposed creation of the Yolanda Commission.

Similarly, House Resolution 1155, Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz called on the House committees on social services and on food security to investigate the mishandling of the donations from public and private donors, local and overseas, which were coursed through the DSWD.

He cited reports that have indicated that some donations are still in storage, some already expired and no longer fit for human consumption and others finding their way into private hands and even public markets.

“These series of reports have reached a global audience which has put the country in a bad light before the international donor community,” he said.       

He said “reports of mishandling and misdeeds are not only unconscionable but indicates a serious breakdown in the manner by which the government has responded to calamities, natural and man-made.”

“Millions, may be even billions, of dollars worth of food and in-kind donations for victims of recent calamities have reportedly been delivered by various donors, local and overseas, through the DSWD,” he said.

He said reports of non-distribution, loss, defective storage and even misuse of said donations specially food and other in-kind and perishable items have been noted.

“Part of the food aid for super typhoon Yolanda victims have reportedly been left to rot without being distributed by the DSWD,” the solon said.

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