The 50 metric tons or 50,000 kilograms of food items that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government have donated arrived in Albay province Tuesday afternoon after the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) swiftly mobilized its delivery trucks on Monday.
Upon the arrival of the food items, DSWD Bicol Regional Director Norman S. Laurio immediately turned-over the UAE donations to the Provincial Government of Albay headed by Governor Grex Lagman.
In his acceptance message, Gov. Lagman thanked President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr; UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; UAE Ambassador to the Philippines His Excellency Mohamed Obaid Salem Alqataam Alzaabi.
The Albay governor also thanked Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos, DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian, Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista, and Bureau of Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio.
According to Gov. Lagman, the staff of the Albay provincial government will repack the donated food items and will immediately distribute the goods to all the affected families of Mayon’s heightened restiveness.
Secretary Gatchalian explained during Tuesday’s press briefing in Malacanang that the donation was facilitated by DILG Secretary Abalos and his counterpart, the Minister of Interior who is part of UAE’s royal family.
“All in-kind donations that [were] coursed through us will get to Albay in the fastest possible time. Every machinery of the government, I think, is already moving,” the DSWD chief said.
Besides the UAE-sponsored aid, Secretary Gatchalian said the DSWD has already deployed around 38,000 food packs to Albay across five three-day waves, servicing an estimated 8,000 families over 15 days.
Gatchalian explained that after the DSWD shouldered 15 days-worth of family food packs (FFPs), the Albay provincial government would take its turn feeding the affected families for six days. When this period ends on the 21st day, the DSWD will step in again to provide food packs for another 15 days.
“We want to complement each other’s resources rather than overlap each other’s resources,” Secretary Gatchalian pointed out.
Secretary Gatchalian said that if the volcanic unrest in Albay protracts to 90 days, the DSWD will reconvene with concerned local government units (LGUs) to form an “arrangement as to who feeds on what days.”
“Bottomline natin dito, lahat ng nilikas ng mga lokal na pamahalaan na nasa evacuation center, hawak na ng kanilang mga alkalde, local officials yung food for the next 15 days. After which the provincial government will step in (The bottom line is that for all those transferred to evacuation centers by local governments, their local officials already hold the food aid for the next 15 days.),” the DSWD secretary assured.
The DSWD is also considering deploying financial assistance as the family food packs only include “typical” goods that may not meet the needs of nursing mothers, small children, and senior citizens.
Under President Marcos’ directive, the amounts of such monetary aid are currently being discussed by the DSWD and concerned LGUs, according to Secretary Gatchalian.
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DSWD Sec Gatchalian receives donation of UAE gov’t for Mayon evacuees
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian, together with other government officials, on Monday (June 12), receives the donation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government consisting of some 50 tons of food items and medicines for the affected individuals and families of the Mayon unrest.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President, ordered to send in 24 hours humanitarian aid to the Philippines after Mohamed Obaid Salem Alqataam Alzaabi, UAE Ambassador to the Philippines, requested support from his government.
The humanitarian aid is intended to support the Philippine government’s efforts in disaster preparedness and response.
DSWD looking closely at case of kidnapping filed vs Gentle Hands orphanage
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian said on Monday (June 12) that the DSWD is looking closely at the case of kidnapping and serious detention filed by a mother against Gentle Hand, Inc. (GHI).
In an interview with Karen Davila of ANC’s Headstart on Monday, Secretary Gatchalian mentioned that the kidnapping charges against the private orphanage were already filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“There are five similarly situated cases wherein distressed mothers were somehow.. the children were forcibly separated from the mother, which is no-no in the Department. Definitely, you don’t break families apart. One mother already filed kidnapping and serious detention cases. It’s already filed by the DOJ so that’s something that we are looking at closely,” the DSWD chief explained.
Secretary Gatchalian also pointed out that the DSWD is assisting the parents who have concerns against GHI in referring them to proper authorities, such as the DOJ.
“The (parents) saw stories about Gentle Hands and they were emboldened to come out in the open. Kasi noon ay sila-sila lang, they felt helpless. So now, suddenly, they come to us. So we would direct them to the proper agency,” the DSWD chief pointed out.
Secretary Gatchalian also ensured that cases or concerns reported to the DSWD are being referred to the “right authorities so that the authorities can do the necessary due diligence.”
Last Friday (June 9), DOJ lawyers filed a case of kidnapping under Article 270 of the Revised Penal Code as well as ‘failure to return’ the three minor children of a 31-year-old mother who is now the principal complainant to the criminal case against the executive director of Gentle Hands Inc.
The complainant, Monina Espinosa Roxas, who is also known by the name Juvy Roxas Espinosa, was assisted by lawyers from the DOJ, particularly the Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking (IACAT) Task Force, in finalizing her complaint-affidavit.
GHI, which has childcare facilities in Project 4, Quezon City and in Baliuag, Bulacan, was temporarily closed on May 25 after the DSWD issued a cease-and-desist order for various violations.
The Bureau of Fire Protection’s (BFP) Quezon City Fire District also revoked GHI’s fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC) after fire inspectors listed numerous violations of the Fire Code, including the lack of a proper fire escape.
DSWD plans to distribute cash aid to families affected by Mayon unrest
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex T. Gatchalian said on Monday (June 13) that the Department is looking at providing cash assistance to families that might be affected by the continuing restiveness of Mayon volcano.
In an interview with ANC’s Karen Davila, Secretary Gatchalian pointed out that the plan to distribute cash aid aims to empower individuals and families who have been displaced due to volcanic activity in Albay Province.
“We can empower them with the right to choose. You give them cash, they can go to their grocers to buy their family needs,” the DSWD Chief pointed out.
Secretary Gatchalian said the cash assistance will help affected families to buy their other needs, such as powdered milk for older persons and infants, an item that is not included in the DSWD’s Family Food Packs (FFPs).
The initiative is also part of the Department’s effort to practice the “anticipatory action” approach in disaster response, the DSWD Chief noted.
“Anticipatory action, alam mong sasabog ang bulkan (you know he volcano is erupting), so we can already empower the people through cash assistance. Kasi the boxes are typical, eh (since these boxes are typical). They are not tailored fit to meet every family’s individual requirements,” Secretary Gatchalian explained.
According to Secretary Gatchalian, the cash aid will be sourced from the Department’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) Program as “disasters are crisis situations.”
Secretary Gatchalian assured the local government units (LGUs) in Albay province and the public as well that the DSWD will continue to monitor the situation to better assess the needed interventions.
“Let’s explore other interventions so that we can somehow bring back normalcy in the lives of these people who are affected by Mayon unrest,” the DSWD secretary said.
As of June 12, the DSWD reported some 9,338 families or 36,814 persons from 26 barangays in Albay who have been affected by Mayon’s volcanic activity.
The DSWD’s Bicol Regional Office is constantly monitoring all the Mayon-affected families in the different evacuation centers in Albay province.
On Monday (June 12), DSWD Field Office V Director Norman Laurio inspected four evacuation centers in Daraga City where a number of deficiencies were noted but were immediately given proper action.
At the Gabawan Elementary School, FO V immediately ordered the delivery of 69 sleeping and hygiene kits for use of the newly-arrived additional evacuees.
Director Laurio coordinated with the local Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) for the immediate deployment of a fire truck for the water supply of evacuees sheltered at the Budiao Elementary School.
Through the FO V’s intervention, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce was tapped to provide water to the evacuees at the San Andres Elementary School with 500 bottles of 6-Liter each of distilled water.
Meanwhile, the Sto. Domingo Central School was described as a very ideal evacuation center with each room having its own toilet and sink and with enough water supply. Unfortunately, Director Laurio said, the evacuees here will only be staying for 15 days, after which they will be transferred to another evacuation center.