Les Miserables: Post Zambo Crisis Issue

BY: JUSEPH ELAS

RELIEF ITEMS | [via Juseph Elas]
The report that circulated concerning some individuals selling the relief goods they were given of among the evacuees situated at Don Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex raised the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) concern. The food packs and other goods given are for their consumption, their consumption alone. What could’ve pushed these people to sell those food packs?

The situation inside the grandstand is much even worse than what we can see outside it and along the R.T. Lim Boulevard. Inside, tents were put for 2-3 families to camped their selves in, public toilets are starting to stink, food distribution from the DSWD is starting to run scarce, and daily needs are hard to come by. The sanitation is also a major problem for the evacuees.

Could it be that some of those scenarios pushed some of the evacuees to sell the goods that they were given of? Or is there a bigger issue in this picture that is also so rampant inside that could’ve pushed them to do so?

We tried to look for evidences that selling of goods are really happening inside.

Inside Don Joaquin F. Enriquez memorial sports complex, I met Fatima. She is a teenager whose mother owns a store inside grandstand. They were also evacuated there due to the siege that started in September 9.

I tried to come on easy first, besides I don’t want to immediately spill the beans. I asked her if where they are getting the goods to supply their store. She said “we buy them downtown.” Well, that sounds plausible since the stores downtown are already open and ready to cater the needs of the public. And so I ask her if she knows about the issue of good selling inside the grandstand. She said she heard of it, and yes it’s happening inside. However, she said it was just “usap-usapan” or hearsays.

That then became my tactic. I approach some other small stores inside with small items to sell, thinking that it might have come from the goods given by DSWD.

A small stall came into view with a woman watching over it. I came over and started to play the game again. I asked her if where she gets her supply in the store. She said “it’s of my brother’s, actually. He’s the one supplying it.” By what she said, I thought where his brother got the money to supply the small stall? but I did not bother asking since I don’t want to offend her or sound prying.

I asked her if she knows about the issue that some evacuees are selling their goods after receiving it. The woman, who doesn’t want to reveal her identity for security purposes, said that yes, it’s true. She said that they are selling 1 food pack (which is composed of uncooked rice, cans of sardines, and packs of noodles) for P270.00 outside grandstand.

The woman also said that “they are doing it [maybe] because they need money for fare to go to their province in Sulu and Basilan.”

She also shared that there is another side to that story because trading is also happening. And so I asked how this trading takes place.

She said that inside grandstand, the commodities are not complete. Sometimes, when an icecandy vendor would come inside and sell, the children would tell the vendor that they will trade a can of sardines or a pack of noodles for one icecandy. Other cases like trading of the same product for a sachet of coffee. Stuff like that.

After talking to the woman and Fatima, I got two pictures of the said issue. One is, they are selling the goods to be able to have fare to flee the place for their province in Sulu and/or Basilan; another is they are doing it in exchange of another product that is scarce inside the grandstand.

But my mind can’t still reconcile both of the pictures. And so I seek for the presence of any DSWD worker. Luckily, there is one available and who entertained me. I asked for corroboration of the claims made by the woman and Fatima and give clarifications about the issue.

Nowell Louis Acejas, a DSWD worker said that when we say relief goods we have non-food goods and food goods. The issue regarding the selling of goods is true and they were able to imprison some doing the said act.

He also said that non-food goods include kitchen utensils.

Acejas told me that they were able to imprison several individuals because of this. It’s illegal for them to do it because it was given to them by the government to help them rise from the tragedy and not to make it as a business or income generating program.

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