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Blog about 'rotting' relief goods at DSWD warehouse sparks cyberspace queries


Is the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) hoarding relief goods intended for victims of tropical cyclones Ondoy and Pepeng inside its warehouse?
Due to lack of volunteers, several relief goods given to the DSWD are allegedly gathering dust in their warehouse, says blogger Ella. Picture grabbed from Mabuhay.multiply.com
A blog post from an alleged DSWD volunteer has been circulating all over the Internet saying that relief goods have been "rotting" inside the warehouses. "Every Filipino has the right to know where the tons of donations from the UN and other countries go," Ella said on her post titled "Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo" on Oct. 21. "Iā€™m asking your help to spread the word. Tulungan po ninyo akong ikalat ito (Help me spread the word)...You can link this post to your blogs, facebook, websites etc. You can also e-mail the photos," Ella added. Her blog (www.ellaganda.com) had been removed on Friday but her post was reposted by Lifestyle columnist Jenni Epperson in her website. Facebook users also began spreading the message from "Blog Ni Ella" on Friday amid fears that the stronger Typhoon Ramil would cause additional devastation and require donations for more disaster victims in the next few days. "Can someone verify this?" asked Facebook user Laurice. Plain rumor But DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral denied hoarding relief goods at their central office warehouse at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal II in Pasay City. "I don't know where this rumor is coming from," Cabral told GMANews.TV in a phone interview Friday.

Nothing is rotting. Those stocks are non-perishable
ā€“ DSWD chief Esperanza Cabral
According to her, it is impossible for relief goods to be rotting inside the warehouse as they do not store perishable items. She said the warehouse -- a complex of five buildings -- only has rice, clothes, non-food items and canned goods. "Walang nabubulok. Stocks 'yun na hindi perishable (Nothing is rotting. Those stocks are non-perishable), " she said. Cabral also explained the photos circulated from the blog showing towering boxes of relief goods, saying the stockpile in the warehouse stemmed from the outpouring of donations from various individuals and groups at the height of Ondoy and Pepeng. Cabral said the relief goods would be used in case Typhoon Ramil, which has been forecast to hit Luzon on Sunday, causes another disaster. She also said they cannot release the relief goods right away since they need to check on the items and make an inventory. "This takes two to three hours to do," she said. "Over the past 24 days, we have already given out 500,000 family food packs, 300,000 clothing packs and several non-food items like mosquito nets, blankets and water containers. We are now distributing 10,000 packs a day," Cabral added. The DSWD continues to provide relief goods to Ondoy and Pepeng victims in response to requests from local government units and the reports of the agency's personnel in the field, she added. Lack of volunteers? In her blog, Ella asserted that a friend needed to put a good word for her just so she could enlist as a DSWD volunteer. She said she was shocked to see that the big warehouse had no volunteers and only had one DSWD officer and a security guard.

A volunteer is a volunteer. They can come and go as they want. Perhaps on that day, people were busy
ā€“ Cabral
"A group of eight people, your ate Ella included, went to one of DSWD warehouses to help in repacking relief goods. We know they need volunteers pero hindi namin akalaing WALANG TAO TALAGA SA LOOB NG WAREHOUSE! (but we didn't realize there were no volunteers inside the warehouse)." She posted pictures she allegedly took inside the warehouse, although it was forbidden by the DSWD. Cabral said the DSWD is always open for volunteers, but they cannot force them to stay if they don't want to. "A volunteer is a volunteer. They can come and go as they want. Perhaps on that day, people were busy," she said. She also denied Ella's allegation that she told a reporter from the Philippine News, a US-based Filipino community paper, that the reason why the relief goods were not moving was because they lacked volunteers. "I don't even remember talking to a reporter from the Philippine News. At least, not personally." Cabral appealed to the public to remain vigilant and not believe rumors right away. She invited the media to visit their warehouse if needed. GMANews.TV called the Philippine News office in Los Angeles in California but was unable to get a response as of posting time. - GMANews.TV
Tags: reliefgoods, dswd
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