Course aid via local authorities, Cotabato officials tell quake donors
MAKILALA, COTABATO PROVINCE — As aid started pouring in for earthquake survivors in Cotabato province, officials appealed to donors on Monday to course their help through the emergency operations center the provincial government had set up at the provincial capitol compound in Amas, Kidapawan City.
Board member Joemar Cerebo, spokesperson of the emergency center, said they had banned the giving of donations to residents who pleaded for food, water, and tents along the highways here.
“We urged them to go to the LGU (local government units), barangay governments or designated evacuation centers so they can be given relief goods,” Cerebo said of evacuees begging along the highway.
Cotabato Board Members Shirlyn Macasarte, serving as acting vice governor, echoed the same call after receiving reports in the last two days of two incidents when private citizens giving food and water in Barangay Kisante, Makilala were allegedly mobbed by hungry villagers. Macasarte asked travelers and private citizens to refrain from distributing aid on their own but instead course their donations through the local government.
“To all our kindhearted travelers passing by Makilala national highway, please avoid giving assistance on your own,” Macasarte said. “Help us manage this chaos.”
Macasarte, chair of Cotabato’s Incident Management Team (IMT), said the local government had asked the displaced people to stay at the identified evacuation sites instead of begging along the national highway.
“We requested them to be in our evacuation sites so we can manage the giving of aid equally and properly document them but they continuously refused,” she added.
“If you want to give it personally then let the Incident Command Center (ICC) assign an area where you can give so everyone shall be covered,” she advised commuters cum “Good Samaritans.”
She denied claims on mainstream and social media by some residents along the national highway that they failed to receive aid from the government, the reason they resorted to begging for food, water, and tarpaulin beside the highway.
Cerebo said some quake victims were taking advantage of the situation by receiving aid more than once from several individuals or groups.
“By coordinating their donations with the emergency operations center, we are avoiding the duplication of relief assistance to victims in a particular village,” he added.
Raylindo Aniñon, Office of Civil Defense-12 acting director, said they also set up a central coordinating center at the provincial government compound in Kidapawan City to cater to those who wanted to donate relief goods and designated an area where they could distribute them, he said.
Cerebo said they would discuss how the emergency operations center and the central coordinating center could work harmoniously.
Cotabato acting Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza earlier called on individuals or groups giving aid to coordinate with the province’s operation center.
“We want to avoid overlapping in the distribution of relief goods. It is important that we observe system and protocols so our resources can be managed and everyone shall be able to receive,” she said. /kga