Sec. Taguiwalo apologizes for the spoilage of expired relief goods in Dumaguete City

Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo expressed her deepest apologies to the public in the wake of reports that DSWD Negros Island Region (DSWD-NIR) disposed of spoiled relief goods worth P170, 981.20 by burying them in an open dumpsite in Brgy. Candauay in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. The goods had expired in June 2016, a month before the new administration took office.

In reports to the media, Regional Director of DSWD-NIR Shalaine Marie Lucero admitted that the Field Office (FO) administered the disposal. The goods had already expired earlier in June, but the FO disposed of them only lastSeptember 2 in coordination with Department of Health (DOH), the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Dumaguete City's Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO). It was only reported to the Secretary on October 2.

Sec. Taguiwalo said that she learned of the incident a month after the disposal.

"I apologize to the public that this has happened. We have been trying the last three months under the new administration to assure people that what happened in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda -- when rice meant for the typhoon survivors were allowed to spoil and then had to be buried secretly - would never happen again," she said. "So it is very disappointing that this happened."

"The goods should have been disposed before they expired because we have a policy on the same. All food items about to expire in three-month's time should be used immediately for Food for Work (FFW) activities, supplemental feeding programs, and food assistance to clients of Crisis Intervention Units (CIU), and for our centers and institutions," she said.

A monthly report on stockpile resources with expiry dates shall be submitted every 30th of the month to the Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DReAMB). For purposes of monitoring readiness for any disasters and emergencies, FOs are also required to submit the weekly volume of the stockpile also to the DreAMB.

In the feedback report submitted by the FO, it was stated that 22,310 pieces of 3-in-1 coffee 20 gram-packs (worth P100,395); 45 pieces of instant noodles 55 gram-packs (P225); 821 kilos of rice (P20,525); 484 cans of beef loaf (P7,139); and 4,186 cans of sardines (P42,697.20) were either damaged, spoiled, or expired. The total cost of all the disposed of goods has been pegged at P170,981.20.

Sec. Taguiwalo already asked RD Lucero to give a formal and comprehensive explanation on how the goods were allowed to spoil and why the Central Office was not informed regarding the matter. She also instructed concerned offices in the CO to coordinate and provide concrete measures to ensure that this should not happen again.

The Secretary reiterated that, "These relief goods were purchased using government funds, and this immediately means that they are property of the Filipino people. I have been previously assured that the DSWD and all its units responsible for stockpiling relief goods have established safeguards to prevent a repeat of what happened in the aftermath of Yolanda, but now it is evident that we need to ensure that safeguards are in place."

On October 3, Sec. Taguiwalo released a memorandum addressed to all Regional Directors regarding food stockpile management. In it, she reiterated the DSWDD policy that all Field Offices closely monitor the quality and expiry dates of all relief goods to prevent the distribution of expired relief food packs or items.

"While it is our policy for the regional stockpile to be maintained at 30,000 Family Food Packs (FFPs) for any occurrence of disaster at any given time, the FOs should ensure that all the relief goods in our stockpile are of good quality," she said.

Source: Philippine Information Agency

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