MANILA - Undersecretary Manolo Quezon of the Presidential Communications Group issued a clarification on the repacking of relief supplies in Cebu.
In a Facebook post, a volunteer at Mactan Air base said relief goods from Indonesia were being repacked into bags labeled DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and NFA (National Food Authority) instead of distributing it to the victims.
Quezon said he checked with the DSWD field office in Cebu, which explained that donated food is often checked for damaged and expired goods.
They also want to make sure that no expired and leaking canned goods are distributed.
"DSWD staff asked the volunteers to check all the packs and remove any expired/damaged/breakable goods. For example, if the donated relief contains ketchup bottles, volunteers would be asked to remove this so that it will not be difficult to handle and transport (bottles, of course, highly breakable and bulky to transport)," he said.
He said relief goods that are breakable such as ketchup bottles are redistributed to other institutions under DSWD such as orphanages.
Supplies that arrive in bulk are also repacked and mixed with other food items.
"Per Sec. Dinky Soliman, DWD also repacks goods when they come in bulky packages. For example, the energy bars and meal replacement paste from USAID are taken out of their boxes and put in food pack plastic bags. When they are repacked, they are combined with other food items, usually rice and canned goods," Quezon said.
The Palace official confirmed that the DSWD logo is on the bags for accountability "so people know who is responsible for the contents of food packs."
He said authorities use plastic bags for durability during transport and distribution.
Quezon said DSWD usually purchases easy-to-open canned goods with built-in openers "but if donations come from other people, they are distributed as is."