This, after the Department of Social Welfare and Development-XI refused to release the 10,000 sacks of rice committed by Sec. Corazon ‘Dinky’ Soliman even after the leaders had presented and submitted their distribution plan on Thursday, February 7.
By MARILOU AGUIRRE-TUBURAN
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Leaders of Barug Katawhan, a movement of Pablo survivors, have warned of bigger and bolder protests if the government continues to give the victims, especially in remote areas, insufficient help and no genuine rehabilitation.
The group made the statement after the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-XI refused to release the 10,000 sacks of rice committed by Sec. Corazon ‘Dinky’ Soliman even after the leaders already presented and submitted their distribution plan on Thursday, February 7.
“Nganong palisud-lisuron man ming mga biktima? Unsa pay kan-on namo ilabina sa mga namuyo sa hilit nga dapit? ” said Karlos Trangia, spokesman for Barug Katawhan, during a press conference here Friday, February 8.
Trangia said that those living in the remote areas received only once from the DSWD and once from the Philippine National Red Cross since Pablo affected them on 4 December 2012.
“Mas paspas pa ang religious groups, private sectors ug non-government organizations sa paghatag og relief kumpara sa DSWD. Kung wala sila, patay na ang katawhan,” Trangia said.
Last January 15, over 5,000 Pablo victims in the Davao Region blocked the Montevista National Highway in Compostela Valley Province as they demanded for immediate relief, genuine rehabilitation and environmental justice against large-scale mining corporations, agri-business plantations and logging concessions.
The provincial government under ComVal Governor Arturo Uy released 100 sacks of rice and 1,900 relief packs to the victims the same day. Each pack contains 10 kilos of rice and canned goods, among others.
“Kadali lang mahurot anang napulo ka kilo nga bugas,” Trangia said.
A kilo of rice is good for six persons (standard size of a Filipino family). Thus, a 10-kilo rice is only good for 10 meals or not over four days.
DSWD’s Soliman promised to give 10,000 sacks of rice, two days after the barricade. However, until now, the victims are waiting for Soliman to fulfill her commitment.
DSWD-XI Director Priscilla Razon, in an interview, said they will only release the sacks of rice once the group complied with all the nine requirements. But the group has only complied with the first requirement, she added.
“(T)hey are unable to produce the list of recipients,” Razon said, adding that such is the process because they need “to validate” the names.
But Trangia said the agency can monitor the group from packing the rice up to their delivery to the affected areas. In Davao City, they listed Brokenshire amphitheater and its chapel and the Assumption College of Davao gym as the packing centers as well as the NDDC in Tagum City, the Nabunturan Parish Center, the Mawab Parish and Laak gym.
Also part of the Barug Katawhan’s distribution plan is for the DSWD representatives and local officials to be present during the distribution. They also maintained that purok leaders and the barangay health workers will be present to validate the names and the recipients.
Pablo victims under threat, harassment
“Ang 5,000 nga pangalan nga ilang gipangayo dili namo ihatag alang sa seguridad sa mga beneficiaries,” said Grace Curso, leader of Barug Katawhan’s women sector.
The group said that Pablo victims feared to give their names after their leaders were charged with public disorder by the Montevista Police on January 24.
Those charged were Barug Katawhan’s Trangia, Curso and Bello Timdasan. Professor Mae Fe Ancheta-Templa of Balsa-Mindanao, Juland Suazo of Panalipdan, Tony Salubre of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Sheena Duazo of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Leny Camino were also charged.
Curso was also worried for her fellow survivors who were already subjected to harassments by their village captains and the military.
She noted that some residents of Monkayo town were threatened to be delisted from the 4Ps program and were warned that they will no longer get rations for their families from the DSWD. Residents of New Alegria village in Compostela town were also allegedly subjected to the same threat.
The military has also subjected to threats the residents in Binondo village, Baganga town in DavOr as it conducted house-to-house survey led by a certain Montela.
“Dili na maka-uma ang mga residente kay naa may mga sundalo. Nakapadugang lang ni sa kagutom sa katawhan,” Curso said.
For Tindasan, leader of Barug Katawhan’s peasant sector, making the military lead the relief and rehabilitation poses grave danger especially if they will be going to areas where armed conflict between the AFP and the New People’s Army (NPA) have occurred.
Tindasan also said, having the military take over this supposed function of civilian authorities is an insult to the “civilian supremacy” provision in the constitution.
“Clearly, it’s not the military’s job,” Tindasan said, adding that, besides they are often at the receiving end of their accusations of being “NPA supporters” if not “NPA members,” making them more vulnerable to human rights violations in the presence of AFP men, “the supposed protectors of the people.”
He said, the military is apparently taking advantage of the disaster to advance the counter-insurgency plan of the current administration, the Oplan Bayanihan, a thing which they should have been spared from, as they are still reeling from the devastation wrought by the typhoon.
Where’s the aid?
As the Pablo victims raised their concerns, they asked where have all the donations gone, including the foreign aid?
DSWD’s Razon said that as of December 2012, they already distributed a total of over PHP 401 Million worth of food assistance to the Pablo victims. She also said that PHP 164 Million worth of rice from the USAID is coming. While she can’t give the exact amount, she said that they already spent billions for the Pablo relief and rehabilitation.
However, Trangia said, the assistance were not felt by most of the Pablo victims. For, had the government given genuine help, he said, Pablo victims won’t have to launch a barricade in Montevista and contemplate of doing it again if only to get what’s rightfully theirs. (With a report from Ace R. Morandante/davaotoday)