BoC Cebu scored over expired goods for Yolanda victims

October 07, 2018
Yedda Marie K. Romualdez

LEYTE Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez yesterday scored the Cebu Bureau of Customs’ (BoC) seeming absence of “malasakit” (compassion) following its failure to salvage containers of expired goods for Yolanda victims that it reportedly destroyed.

Romualdez, one of the principal sponsors of the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) measure,  reiterated her appeal for the Senate to expedite the passage of the bill that was approved by the House of Representatives on third and final reading last week.

“I can’t believe that the Bureau of Customs allowed this to happen when thousands of Filipinos suffer from hunger every day. Nakakasakit ng puso na marinig ito. This is another insult to Yolanda victims five years after the tragedy,” Romualdez, the chairperson of the House Committee on Accounts, lamented.

“I appeal to the Senate leadership to also fast track the passage of the DDR bill as this would help drastically reduce, if not totally eliminate, the bureaucratic red tape that has caused many delays in the delivery of immediate assistance needed by disaster and calamity victims,” said Romualdez who expressed confidence that President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte will immediately sign into law the DDR bill once it is approved by Congress.

Romualdez, who represents Tacloban City or the “Ground Zero” during the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda on November 8, 2013, said under the DDR “there will be clear guidelines and coordination in terms of donations under the DDR because to allow food to rot is a clear case of incompetence.”

The DDR will exclusively handle all natural disasters to drastically reduce the country’s vulnerability to natural hazards.

It guarantees a unity of command, science-based approach, and full-time focus on natural hazards and disasters.

Former Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, president of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), condemned the BoC incident in the strongest possible terms.

“Sana hindi malaman iyan ng ating Presidente kasi siguradong magagalit iyun. The President all the way down to the victims will definitely abhor and condemn this. It’s like a mortal sin that should not have happened. It just needs common sense at dapat inilabas iyan. We call upon all the authorities under the DoF (Department of Finance) and Customs not to repeat this. Maling-mali iyun,” said Romualdez, president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), in pointing out the alleged absence of malasakit” (compassion) of some BoC officials.

The BoC in Mandaue City, Cebu on Wednesday last week reportedly destroyed the goods, which included clothes, diapers, toiletries, medical supplies and canned goods from Belgium, Norway and the United States.

BoC-Cebu Chief of the Auction and Cargo Disposal Division Elmer Bailio said the goods were not released after the consignees failed to secure a tax exemption from the DoF.

According to BoC-Cebu District Collector Elvira Cruz, canned goods and medicines were already expired while a 2011 memorandum bars forfeited used clothing from being donated to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).