Anakpawis slams DSWD evasiveness on the true status of the P18-billion ESA fund

Anakpawis and Pamalakaya protest against DSWD Memorandum Circular No. 24
and demanded distribution of Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA). Photo by Friends of Anakpawis

MANILA, Philippines – During the budget deliberations for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) at the House of Representatives, the militant Anakpawis Partylist slammed the department’s tendency to evade disclosure of the real status of distribution of the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) fund for typhoon Yolanda victims. Members meanwhile of Anakpawis and Pamalakaya (fisherfolk) protested at the south gate to demand the scrapping of the DSWD’s Memorandum Circular No. 24 which the militants claimed has been effectively disqualifying Yolanda victims en masse from availing of the shelter assistance.

“Ang laki-laking pondo, bilyun-bilyong pisong pondong publiko, wala tayong alam kung ano na ang nangyayari, sa kabila nito ang mga biktima ng Yolanda ay nananawagan pa rin ng tulong,” (There are billions of public funds but we are uninformed as to how exactly these are being used, what we are sure of is that victims of typhoon Yolanda are still demanding for aid), Anakpawis Representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap said during the hearing.

Last May, during the dialogue of leaders of the People Surge, an alliance of typhoon Yolanda victims from the Visayan regions, with DSWD officials, the latter said that P18.6 billion has been alloted for the Emergency Shelter Assistance and that P14.72 billion has already been released. But the typhoon victims belonging to the People Surge claimed that many have yet to receive the assistance and demanded the scrapping of the DSWD Memorandum Circular No. 24.

“Ayon sa NDRRMC, 1.1 milyon ang bahay na nasira at mahigit 900,000 lang ang bibigyan ng ESA, sabi ni Soliman, pero dahil sa Memo Circular 24, dumami ang disqualified at hindi mabibigyan,” (According to NDRRMC, 1.1 million houses were destroyed and more than 900,000 were to receive ESA according to Secretary Dingky Soliman, but because of the Memo Circular 24, there were many who were disqualified to receive aid), Hicap said.

The said memo disqualifies those who reside on “No Build – No Dwell Zones,” those not included by the LGU on the DSWD-Disaster Family Access Card (DAFAC), regular workers in public and private sectors who are amortizing housing loans or those earning P15,000 or more a month.

“Tandaan natin na November 2013 pa ang Yolanda, September 2015 na, hindi na emergency ito, sobrang tagal na, hanggang sa naulat na ang anomalya at biktima na nga ng Yolanda, nabiktima pa lalo,” (We should remember that typhoon Yolanda hit in November 2013, it is already September 2015 and so the program has really failed to provide an emergency response, it has taken too long, and now we get various reports about anomalies involving the ESA fund where Yolanda victims are again the victims), Hicap said. ###