The distribution of relief goods to victims of Typhoon “Odette” was delayed after the office of outgoing Governor Art Yap no longer provided fuel for the delivery of the food aid, a Capitol official said Wednesday.
Office of the Provincial Welfare and Development (OPSWD) chief Mita Tecson said that due to lack of fuel they were unable to immediately resume the delivery of relief goods after the months-long ban on local government units (LGU) from extending aid during the campaign period was lifted.
“Ang para sa relief operations, naa man jud na gikan sa governor’s office ang para sa krudo. Adto jud mi mokuha,” said Mita Tecson.
She said it took almost two weeks after the polls before they restarted the distribution of the food aid.
The OPSWD instead asked recipient municipal local government units (LGU) to pick up the goods which were stored at the Bohol Cultural Center in Tagbilaran City.
“Mao nalang nay among gihimo kay wala naman mi tagai og krudo mao nanghanyo nalang mi sa mga lungsod na makuha nila diri,” she added.
As of June 7, large piles of relief goods still remained at the Bohol Cultural Center when the Chronicle visited the site. The remaining goods were mostly donations while a only a few were purchased by the provincial government.
Since then however, the food packs which contained rice, canned goods, noodles, milk and coffee, among others have been quickly turned over to the LGUs of Ubay, Buenavista, Getafe, Danao, Batuan and Valencia, said Tecson.
A few relief goods still remained at Camp Bernido in Tagbilaran City as of Wednesday but these were already allocated for the Talibon LGU.
According to Tecson, Provincial Administrator Kathyrin Pioquinto ordered the suspension of relief operations when the ban was implemented on March 25.
The provincial government appealed to the Commission on Elections for an exemption from the prohibition but this was denied.
Tecson said added that the Capitol also requested the Philippine Red Cross to distribute the goods instead but the non-profit humanitarian organization also had its hands full with their own relief operations.
Earlier, Provincial Election Officer lawyer Edi Aba noted that the ban on the distribution of the goods was only effective from March 25, the start of the campaign period for local candidates, until Election Day on May 9.
According to Aba, local government units could have also secured a special approval from the Comelec en banc in Manila to allow the distribution of the goods through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or the Philippine Red Cross during the campaign period.
Immediately after the storm hit Bohol on December 16, 2021, Yap said that the province’s contingency fund was already depleted due to relief efforts in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yap said this limited the Capitol’s capacity to extend food aid and conduct relief operations.
The governor drew flak for his statement but the Capitol later made an announcement that a fresh P191-million will be available in 2022 to finance relief operations in the aftermath of the storm.
However, the provincial government can initially use only 30 percent of the total fund pending the realignment of the rest of the allocation if deemed necessary. (R. Tutas)