Philippine News - Yolanda Relief Aid

A traveling lie

Editorial, Opinion – “A lie travels around the word while the truth is putting on its boots”, so said Winston Churchill.

The truth has walked far from what is happening today in ‘Yolanda’ areas where there are various local and international entities trying to help ordinary citizens slowly recover from what they lost to the super typhoon. The lie is that relief goods have been or are being distributed and received at once.

The truth is that so many relief goods have been missing. The relief goods reached the areas where they are supposed to be distributed, delivered by donor groups. But these have not been completely received by the people who need them.

Research conducted by the Visayan Business Post News Team reveal the continued existence of a practice during post typhoon scenarios in the rural setting: relief goods are held by local authorities usually involved in relief operations. The relief goods are often re-classified, repacked, and re-allocated. A significant number of the goods would later end up in commercial concerns to be sold, or the residences of the authorities, never to be seen again.

Rumours persist that in the City of Tacloban these relief goods are sold. Whoever sells them does not sell per kilo, in the case of rice, but in sacks. Whoever buys them acquire by the lot at so pittance a price.

It is difficult to understand even by one raised in Leyte how this norm came to be in a place where people are all victims and are supposed to understand the needs of the time.

It is illogical to see social workers and local officials hoard, at the dead of night, foodstuff that the economic constitution of their own families do not need. It is difficult to accept the truth that these authorities will never want as much as the ordinary citizen who skip meals to see their families through for the week.

The hoarding, stealing and selling of relief related goods by any person, public official or not, could only be attributed to the vociferous greed of people who see the misfortune of others as an opportunity to enrich themselves. No social sin is greater than that which prolongs or abets human suffering. That is the reason why even hardened criminals sentenced to death are allowed to accept the execution and service of their sentence with proper dignity.

Guillermo C. Lopez