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UNA candidates shun evacuation centers in typhoon ravaged region


Former President Joseph Estrada, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile proclaim senatorial candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in Plaza Independencia in Cebu City. The UNA senatorial candidates are (from left) Migz Zubiri, Mitos Magsaysay, Ernesto Maceda, Gringo Honasan, Dick Gordon, JV Ejercito, Jackie Enrile, Tingting Cojuangco and Nancy Binay. FILE PHOTO

COMPOSTELA, Philippines—The United Nationalist Alliance on Tuesday courted votes in Compostela Valley, which is recovering from the devastation wrought by recent natural disasters, but shunned evacuation centers.

UNA candidates said they decided not to go to the evacuation centers and give aid lest they be accused of using the evacuees’ plight to boost their profiles. They would also be unable to distribute relief goods as doing so might be considered improper or in violation of election rules.

But they did not hold back on criticizing the Department of Social Welfare and Development for allegedly failing to adequately care for the typhoon victims in the province.

According to Zambales Rep. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, UNA candidates already gave relief goods and aid to victims of Typhoon Pablo earlier, and they did it quietly.

At present, they did not think it would be a good idea to go to them during the campaign period, Magsaysay said.

“We should not use disasters for political gain,” she told reporters.

Former Senator Ernesto Maceda and UNA candidate Nancy Binay shared the sentiment.

But both Maceda and Magsaysay said Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman had a lot of things to explain.

Maceda said Soliman has to explain where the foreign donations coursed through the DSWD went, and added that the rescue and relief operations of the department would have to be scrutinized.

He made the statements not long after victims of Typhoon Pablo from Compostela Valley and Davao stormed the DSWD’s regional office in Davao City to seize relief goods.

Magsaysay said the DSWD had been inefficient in helping the typhoon victims.

She said that after the typhoon struck, non-governmental organizations and the private sector were among the first to respond with help. Now that they have left, the DSWD’s incompetence in helping the victims is very apparent, what with the many complaints they have.

She also wondered why the DSWD had to appeal to other groups for donations of relief goods when the government should have been at the forefront of mobilizing assistance for them.

Juan Miguel Zubiri said that instead of going to evacuation centers, UNA candidates would meet with Compostela Valley officials to get their assessment of the situation and discuss what should be done to help improve the situation of the victims.

Six UNA candidates—Magsaysay, Maceda, Zubiri, Tingting Cojuangco, Nancy Binay, Jack Enrile—visited Maco, Mabini, Pantukan, Monkayo, Montevista, and Nabunturan towns in Compostela Valley on Tuesday.

The candidates made whistlestops at public markets and transport terminals, shaking hands with vendors, customers, bus passengers, and kibitzers. They made no speeches and spent their time hobnobbing with the people.

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Tags: 2013 elections , Compostela Valley , evacuation centers , Natural Disasters , Typhoon , UNA , United Nationalist Alliance

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