MANILA, Philippines – Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman defended government efforts to provide relief to the victims of typhoon Pablo in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, saying they were moving as fast as they can to service residents in devastated areas.
Soliman said there have already been three rounds of relief goods distribution in Banganga, Cateel, and Boston towns in Davao Oriental, and also in New Bataan, Compostela Valley. The Secretary added that other organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are helping with relief efforts.
"We have covered the coastal towns in Davao Oriental, but in Compostela Valley there are still some barangays na hirap pang maabot. In those cases, we organize helicopters to drop relief goods. Umaakyat din mga sundalo by foot para matulungan sila," said Soliman.
The DSWD chief also explained that they have set up a hub in Trento, Agusan Del Sur to service far-flung areas in Davao Oriental, where power, water, and communication lines are still down.
"We want to bring in supplies quickly and in big numbers. We also have to monitor distribution so that we are not overserving one place and underserving others. This means that we have to know what each group is able to bring. Maganda sana kung ‘yung mga independent relief efforts ay mag-coordinate muna sa amin," said Soliman.
To provide shelter for those affected by the typhoon, bunk houses are also being set up in the coastal towns of Davao Oriental where even evacuation centers were knocked down by strong winds. The government will get workers from the local population as part of their cash for work program.
Soliman also addressed the observation that some typhoon victims were begging on the streets, saying this is not necessarily an indication that relief goods have not reached certain areas.
"Ano ba ang psychology ng mga biktima? They lost everything, so the sense of deprivation big, and the relief goods they received will never be enough. We don't blame them of course, so the strategy now is overwhelm them with food para kahit papaano mabawasan ‘yung burden sa kanila," explained Soliman.
The secretary also noted that stress debriefing teams have also been deployed to affected areas to help residents cope with the trauma of the calamity.
More personnel will be deployed in the next couple of days to augment their current capabilities.