The government still has sufficient stocks of relief goods to aid families affected by the series of quakes in Mindanao.
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made this assurance when asked if there is a need to ask help from the international community regarding the ongoing relief efforts in Mindanao.
“No. The international community is not needed in this case. The government has sufficient resources. Plus there are local donors who have given while others are on standby,” he said in a message to reporters Monday.
Lorenzana was earlier designated by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, acting as the government’s officer-in-charge, as the point person for the immediate delivery of assistance to the victims of the series of quakes in Mindanao.
The DND chief also clarified that his statement on Sunday stating that the series of earthquakes in Mindanao can be considered a humanitarian crisis was taken from an unverified source.
“Yes, my initial statement of (Mindanao earthquakes being a) humanitarian crisis was taken from an unverified source. Undersecretary (Ricardo) Jalad of the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) who was there until yesterday (Sunday) reported that it is not. Not all affected families are in the evacuation centers but opted to stay near their homes,” he added.
More relief goods are coming from Manila which are being transported by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“There is sufficient relief goods now in Kidapawan (North Cotabato) and the DSWD is transporting some more from Manila and other regions,” the DND chief pointed out.
Earlier, Lorenzana directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to set up checkpoints in the quake-affected areas in Mindanao to properly record the arrival of relief goods and workers.
“I have also issued a directive for the putting up of checkpoints at all entry points to the disaster areas so that we can record all relief goods and relief workers going in,” he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.
The said checkpoints will also ensure that only legitimate and authorized relief workers are granted access to evacuation centers and receive relief goods and supplies for distribution to the evacuees.
“The checkpoints will also screen those kibitzers or ‘usiseros’,” the DND chief disclosed.
The DND chief said he has also instructed relevant authorities on the proper management of evacuation centers to ensure order in the distribution of relief goods.
He added that this instruction was in the wake of reports that some people are rushing to relief vehicles and getting anything they can.
“I have also directed the military to remove the people from the highways begging and blocking vehicles bringing relief goods and bring them to their communities so they can be properly attended to,” Lorenzana stressed.
Relief organizations, he said, can leave their donations to troops for distribution to the affected families or if they want to do it themselves, military units can direct them to areas needing their assistance, he added.
Aside from this, Lorenzana said the AFP, especially the Army, has already deployed a task force in Kidapawan, Cotabato coordinating the military’s operation with ongoing government relief operations. (PNA)