MANILA, Philippines—A number of civil society groups in Mindanao have expressed support for Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman and the Department of Social Welfare and Development following last week’s raid on the DSWD regional office in Davao City by typhoon victims demanding relief goods.
The DSWD said statements of support from the organizations were read during a press conference attended by the local and national media on Friday in Davao City.
The raid that resulted in the destruction of government property and the looting of relief goods was allegedly instigated by Barug Katawhan, a coalition of militant groups.
The Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (Mincode) said in a statement: “We condemn the manner by which some groups express their sentiments against the government.”
As the largest coalition of Mindanao-based civil society organizations, Mincode said it upheld the principle of constructive engagement with the government.
Respect for legal processes
Mincode also called for respect for legal processes and the nondisruption of public services even as it acknowledged the need to strengthen local governance to effectively address the needs of the community.
“We recognize this administration’s call for transparent, accountable and people-centered governance. There is no need to go to the extent of blocking the regional office and hampering the delivery of public service,” the statement said.
The Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (Phildrra-Mindanao), a national network of 62 nongovernment organizations, said that “as an advocate of transparent and accountable governance, we strongly support the DSWD’s position for a systematic and orderly way of distributing the 10,000 sacks of rice that were planned to be distributed to Typhoon “Pablo” internally displaced families.”
On the other hand, the Volunteers for Poor Community Worldwide Philippines condemned the actions of Barug Katawhan, saying that attacking the DSWD office in Davao City and taking the relief goods intended for victims of other typhoons was unfair.
It said that some DSWD employees did not get to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s last year because they were busy repacking relief goods for the typhoon victims.
“We must understand that the DSWD is monitored by the Commission on Audit, that is why we understand that proper lists of victims must be submitted and validated for transparency and the fair distribution of relief goods,” said the group.
“We hope also that the poor, especially the victims, would not be used for propaganda purposes because they are already victims. We pray that everyone have a fair public judgement,” it added.
The organizations called on all parties concerned to face the problems with “an open mind and heart,” as they welcomed the recent dialogue between both sides.