72,000 food packs remain undistributed in Iloilo City
ILOILO CITY—Thousands of government food packs for survivors of last year’s Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Western Visayas were stored from weeks to months in warehouses in Iloilo due to delays in transporting the goods to affected communities.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office said 7,831 food packs remained at their warehouses as of Sept. 15 that were intended for the towns of Malinao and Tangalan in Aklan.
On Sept. 3, 72,010 food packs were still stored at Iloilo Sports Complex, which served as a temporary storage facility, according to May Rago-Castillo, DSWD Western Visayas information officer. Castillo said the goods arrived from Manila in June and July and comprised the last tranche of food assistance for the typhoon survivors.
She said their office targeted to complete the distribution of the remaining food packs by Sept. 15 but several local government units had appealed for additional time to haul the goods from the warehouses.
“We have distributed most of the food packs. Those that remain comprise 1.5 percent of the 515,010 food packs for survivors in the region,” she told the Inquirer.
The food packs consisted of 20 canned food, 20 packs of noodles and 20 sachets of instant coffee.
Mayor Ariel Igoy of Malinao town in Aklan said they transferred 5,085 food packs only on Sept. 16 while those of other municipalities in the province were hauled from Iloilo City last week.
Igoy said he was informed by the DSWD of the availability of the food packs some time in July to August.
He said they were unable to haul the goods because they had to conduct a validation of the intended beneficiaries.
The town was also still implementing the cash-for-work program with 1,800 beneficiaries who were each paid P250 daily for two months.
Igoy said they also had to arrange the transport of the goods from Iloilo City to Malinao, about 271 kilometers from Iloilo City.
He said his town had to spend P40,000 to transport the goods. This includes fuel for a borrowed truck, rental fee for a van, food for 15 municipal government personnel and hiring of three laborers in Iloilo City.
Other local government units in Aklan had to undergo a bidding process for the hauling services because their spending was more than P50,000, according to the mayor.
“Aklan mayors had requested the DSWD to ship the goods directly to Kalibo so that it would be easier and less costly for us to transport them,” Igoy said.
Castillo said food packs from Manila were sent to the regional DSWD office in Iloilo City, where they were repacked before these were distributed to provinces and municipalities in the region.
“We do not have the provisions to transport these to the [local government units] so they have to haul the goods themselves,” she said.
The provinces of Aklan and Capiz, and the northern municipalities of Iloilo, Antique and Negros Occidental were among the worst-hit areas by Yolanda, which struck on Nov. 8, 2013.
Survivors have repeatedly complained of delays in the release of assistance from the government.
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