Since grade school, citizens of the Philippines are pounded with instructions on keeping the values of prudence, thrift, efficiency, honesty and candor. Prime over them is resourcefulness, upon which the instinct of success and survival pivots. These values are fundamentally the imperatives of proficiency and good sense of responsibility, and to which the sound governance follows. But what happens if the keeper of the resources of the needy members of the society will turn out to be the very institution that will deprive of the constituents the resources simply entrusted to them for distribution to the latter expectedly with no delay? This situation is not simply appalling but demoralizing.

While local and foreign non-government emergency and relief organizations as well as charitable foundations eke out the resources that they feel obliged to share with the survivors of calamities to help them get through the requirements of survival immediately following the happening of the disaster, the very institution reposed with the greatest responsibility of providing what these NGOs and foundations are not even required to provide, is itself remiss and erring.

Only in the Philippines can one find the meaning of emergency and quick response so distorted to cover-up the inefficiency of the agency whose primary mandate under the law creating it is to provide the basic requirements of survival to victims or categorically the survivors of calamities. Hungry and grappling for food, no matter how inferior in quality it is, as well as for water, the survivors could only hope for miracle to happen in the absence of any sure help from the national government which is in receipt of billions of pesos worth of donations from truly helpful NGOs.

While these NGOs are in accord to cross borders just to help the vulnerable survivors stand with dignity once more the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development could just simply justify a so-called blunder. Continued deprivation of the help that the victims should have received long time ago from the donors through the DSWD supposedly immediately and without delay versus a sheer excuse for the agency’s fault in not being able to give the food and water to the helpless victims, which is more heart-rending and deserving of sympathy. Read this news? “Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman confirmed Tuesday the findings of a Commission on Audit (COA) report stating that 7,527 Family Food Packs with an approximate cost of P2,784,900.00 meant for survivors of super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) were lost to spoilage “due to improper handling. The COA report on “Yolanda” relief operations, which was posted on its website, revealed that 19,172 canned goods, 81 packs of noodles, and 21 sacks of rice went to waste.

Apart from spoiled food items, COA noted that bottled water procured in Manila worth P69,296,400.00.” As rejoinder, DSWD agency chief explained, in an interview with Radyo Inquirer 990 AM that the “food packs got wet because the goods were not covered while in transit from Cebu City to Tacloban City and the bottled water were not distributed in Tacloban City ‘due to lack of transport facilities’.” Do these justifications deserve a quick comprehension of the public, save the victims for the while as they are too emotionally battered to favour the alibi of the agency? The possibility of further doubts is inevitable knowing how corruption lurks in the bureaucracy, with the DSWD among the most criticized agencies of the government in the administration Pres. Noynoy Aquino. This is also not dissuading from the issue of alleged possible PDAF scam still crawling the crevices of the stinking bureaucracy.

But the truth remains, the DSWD due to its failure to perform its task with diligence and foresight, has and is depriving the hungry and ailing victims of what they should have received or should be receiving now from donors and patrons. Thanks to the Commission on Audit because the truth finally came out and there is no justification that can gainsay their prior denials. What was once dismissed as unsubstantiated rumors is now borne out by hard and true facts from no other better authority to quote but COA.

If there is smoke, there is fire. No secret will forever be kept in silence because somehow the stench of irregularity and inefficiency will come out. If paparazzi photos find no bearing in the balancing scale the paper trails that reached the auditing firm of the government confirms these all. Hopefully, with this the DSWD will find a better way not to let these shortcomings happen and give truthful meaning to emergency and quick response, lest it loses what remains of its credibility as graft and corruption-free agency of the government.