ADMINISTRATION candidate Manuel Roxas II could suffer a backlash from the failure of Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman to provide timely disaster relief, after a militant party-list group on Sunday called on survivors of natural calamities to give him “zero votes” in next year’s presidential polls.
The call came as public anger simmered over the government’s dumping of some 284 sacks of rotten rice—meant for typhoon survivors—in Leyte, as a result of the inability of Department of Social Welfare and Development under Soliman to efficiently manage and distribute relief.
“Calamity victims and survivors will not achieve real justice and adequate help from this government. That is why they should campaign for zero votes for its top candidate this coming election because if [President Benigno] Aquino’s clone will win in the coming election, calamity victims will further suffer,” said Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap.
“The likes of Dinky Soliman together with other rotten-to-the-core government officials responsible for the lackluster work in rehabilitation and reconstruction of calamity affected areas will continue to do their dirty deeds as long as they remain in their position,” Hicap said.
Hicap rejected the suggestion that human error was the cause of the dumping of rice in Leyte.
“This is not human error. It is in fact the product of systematic incompetence and negligence by the DSWD and the Aquino government,” Hicap said.
Other lawmakers continued to put pressure on the government to make Soliman account for “missing billions” in local and foreign donations.
Senatorial candidate and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez on Sunday slammed the government’s lack of compassion and concern for the survivors of typhoon “Yolanda” that flattened Eastern Visayas and killed over 6,000 people in November 2013, after the discovery of the buried rice.
“It is quite telling that after two years, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has not been transparent. Despite the Commission on Audit’s discovery of cash donations of over P300 million not being disbursed, the government has yet to account for it and for the billions that had been donated by local and foreign donors,” said Romualdez, whose district included Tacloban City, among the heavily damaged by Yolanda.
“For the past two years, we have been asking the government to account for the billions in local and foreign donations, to no avail,” he added.
The lawmaker said survivors were complaining about the replacement of donations of imported corned beef and Spam with the relief goods of local brand of corned beef and sardines.
He maintained that Soliman must be held liable in the reported dumping of NFA rice for the Yolanda survivors.
“The lack of compassion on this shocking discovery is unthinkable and beyond human comprehension. I can’t understand why this has to happen given the continued hunger among Yolanda survivors who continue to hope for government assistance. The lives of survivors remain uncertain. Such negligence and wastage of relief goods in the disaster-hit areas are unforgivable,” he said.
House Deputy Minority Leader and 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III said the mishandling of relief goods and donations has undermined the faith of foreign and local donors to course their contributions through the national government.
“Where are the billions of donations? Why can’t the government account for them?” he asked.
In January this year, Hicap said, some 900 sacks of rice were also discovered undistributed and left to rot inside the regional office VIII of the Bureau of Customs in Tacloban City. The 900 sacks of rotting rice were eventually buried, he said.
“The sins of DSWD chief Dinky Soliman to calamity victims are unfathomable. She should be held accountable for all the sufferings she inflicted on all calamity victims in her stint namely typhoons Ruby, Seniang, Pablo and super typhoon Yolanda,” Hicap said.
At the same time, Hicap urged all opposition and non-administration candidates for president to an “only Mar” scenario that would knock out Senator Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte from the presidential race by way of disqualification cases.
“We believe that Senator Poe’s disqualification case is just step one,” said Hicap, who ascribed the complaints to the Aquino administration and the “Liberal Party clique.”
The Comelec 2nd Division last week cancelled Poe’s Certificate of Candidacy, citing her failure to meet the 10-year residency requirement for president, and questions about her status as a natural-born citizen.
Anakpawis said the next step in the Liberal Party plot could be the issuance of an arrest warrant for Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is facing four plunder cases before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Hicap said this would be followed by a demolition job or disqualification case against Duterte, who filed his CoC as substitute to anti-crime advocate Martin Diño.
If these actions take place, that would leave only Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago to oppose Roxas, Hicap said.
“As last resort, the Aquino administration could utilize the automated elections to favor Roxas’ candidacy,” Hicap said.
The Palace on Sunday said the DSWD has ordered an investigation over the dumping of almost 300 sacks of rice meant for typhoon victims.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma added that Soliman had reported that the DSWD has been doing everything it can to strengthen its capacity to handle the distribution of the relief goods to the victims of the typhoons and other calamities. With Sandy Araneta
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