Bohol mayor drives out Red Cross volunteers

22 October 2013

(Updated) Maribojoc, Bohol Mayor Leoncio Evasco defended his decision to drive out Philippine Red Cross volunteers who were distributing relief goods in his town recently.

The Red Cross accused the Mayor of insisting on turning over the relief goods to the local government which the group opposed because it was against their policy.

Evasco however said he was only after the fair distribution of the relief goods since some families were getting more than their share.

"What I didn’t like is they just came in and we were not given the opportunity to discuss the mechanism on how to do it considering that at that time we could not produce the list on our own because we were really  tied up in responding to the needs," Evasco told ABS-CBN.

He added, "People are dying, people were injured, people need food. And then they keep on distributing where yung tatay pumila, yung nanay pumila, yung anak pumila, a lot of people were disenfranchised. And I said if we keep on doing this magkakagulo, nagkagulo nga. If you insist on doing this I said, better stop and get out of this place."

He appealed for understanding and said he has no intention of taking credit for the relief goods since it is his last term as mayor.

Philippine Red Cross Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang explained they follow strict criteria in selecting beneficiaries because they don’t have enough relief goods for all residents.

"Yung ieentrust namin yun goods hindi pwede yun dahil pagbalik natin sa Manila or pagakreport sa donors. Hahanapin sa atin. Saan nyo dinala yun goods? Sino nakatanggap noon? Di namin masasagot yun,” Pang told ABS-CBN.

She said they have to be accountable to their donors.

"Very important talaga na kami mismo nakavalidate sa listahan namin. Sinong pamilya ang tumanggap at pipirma."

Meanwhile, the Palace did not took either the side between Red Cross and Mayor Evasco, but made an appeal instead for the two parties to foster better coordination to ensure better service to the people of Bohol. The Palace also lamented the rift between the two parties which is now affecting quake victims in the municipality.

"Tingin ko po pareho namang may puntong isinusulong yung Red Cross at si Mayor. Sa amin lang, sana magkaroon ng mas masinsing uganayan ang lahat ng tumutulong sa ating kababayan,” Secretary Sonny Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office told the reporters.

Coloma admitted that there are challenges that normally arise times of calamities and the government is making sure that agencies will be able to overcome these obstacles for the sake of  efficiency of distribution and ensuring the quality of support.

"Hindi madaling sumagot ng black and white at malayo tayo sa ground at nandito sa opisina, baka theoretical ang sagot. Sa ground, may dynamics na nagaganap dun. Anuman yun, di dapat maantala pa yung paghatid ng tulong," said Coloma.

READ MORE: Phivolcs: No magnitude 8 quake, no new volcano

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