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Aid for Philippines typhoon victims found rotting in dump

Government says food aid was delivered 'expired and spoiled'

<p>Typhoon survivors sort donated canned goods in a warehouse in Leyte province. (Photo by Vincent Go)</p>

Typhoon survivors sort donated canned goods in a warehouse in Leyte province. (Photo by Vincent Go)

  • Ronald O. Reyes, Palo
  • Philippines
  • March 12, 2014
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Tons of relief goods intended for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines have been found buried and rotting in a dump in the town of Palo in Leyte province.

The discovery late last week sparked an outcry on Tuesday among typhoon survivors and activists.

"This is utterly outrageous," said Dr Efleda Bautista, spokeswoman of People Surge, an alliance of typhoon survivors in the region.

Bautista said that while thousands of typhoon victims "still languish in hunger", the government "buries truckloads of relief goods because they are supposedly unfit for human consumption."

Nina Balderas, social welfare officer of Palo, said in an interview that "truckloads of expired and spoiled relief goods" were dumped and buried in the village of San Jose in Palo on February 5 and March 6.

Balderas said the dumped goods included biscuits, canned goods, and rice declared by the social welfare office as "not fit for human consumption and emitting a foul odor."

She said they have to bury the goods so that other stocks would not be contaminated. But used clothes were also found to have been dumped.

"It is raining almost every day here in Leyte when these goods were delivered," Balderas said, adding that some donors gave goods "that are about to expire or are already expired."

"Why blame the donors for expired goods? Why blame the victims for not claiming them? Why not blame [the social welfare office] for not having an efficient system of distribution?” said Bautista.

Some residents of Palo who asked not to be named said they felt mad about the incident.

"I don’t understand why this is happening … when many of us went without food and clothing for days,” said one parent who had to go to the dump to pick up canned sardines.

The presidential palace said it will conduct a probe and see if there are lapses behind the non-delivery of relief goods to intended recipients.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman last week said her office will continue to distribute food packs.

In December, the pilferage of relief goods intended for typhoon victims captured the headlines after it was discovered that emergency aid from the United Kingdom was sold for profit by some local officials.

Emergency supplies delivered by military helicopters turned up on the shelves of shops in Manila, media reports from London said. 

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