In spite of a promise from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), sacks of rice and additional relief items for victims of typhoon Pablo never arrived. The promise was made after the victims barricaded a portion of the public highway in Montevista, Compostela Valley on January 15 to call attention to their plight. Instead, the protest leaders were charged with public disorder.
Progressive groups roundly condemned the filing of charges, saying it was a sign of the Aquino government’s stubborn refusal to attend to the legitimate interests of calamity victims and resolve the real reasons behind the environmental destruction that has brought great hardships to the people of Mindanao.
Meanwhile, anomalies behind the construction of bunkhouses for typhoon Pablo victims have been bared and confirmed by journalists who covered the conditions of the calamity victims and interviewed DSWD insiders. An engineer working for the DSWD reported that a structure constructed in San Rafael, Cateel, Davao Oriental cost `550,000, and 39 units constructed in other areas of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental cost `650,000 each.
The masses and the reporters were incredulous since the structures were only made of coco lumber and plywood. One of the more obvious anomalies involved carpentry costs in San Rafael, since the units were all constructed by soldiers already receiving salaries from the government. The DSWD official reasoned out that the amount covered food allowances. But DSWD records did not contain any items on food allowances for the soldiers.
The residents were also surprised to see a `63,107.23 allocation for cement floors. There was no need to construct cement floors because the bunkhouses were all built on an old basketball court. There was also a budget item for the construction of corridors, another unnecessary item due to the use of the basketball court as site. This information pertains to a single bunkhouse unit. Sixty units have been constructed in the area.
In another case of corruption, 11 officers of the Philippine National Police were ordered dismissed on January 22 due to anomalies in the purchase of 75 rubber boats for the evacuation of flood victims. Among those fired for the corruption-ridden procurement in 2008 of P131.5 million worth of rubber boats were Police Chief Supt. Herold Ubalde and Deputy Dir. Gen. Benjamin Belarmino Jr.