Yolanda Report: Rot in container vans,Former DSWD Sec. Dinky Soliman let relief goods from Belgium expire
QUEZON CITY, Feb. 2 - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported to the Filipino people the circumstances that led to the spoilage of the contents of at least 12 container vans of donations from Filipinos in Belgium and Belgian for the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda. The goods were donated and arrived in the Philippines in 2014 during the previous DSWD administration under the Benigno Aquino government.
The DSWD-Field Office VII issued its report to DSWD Sec. Judy M. Taguiwalo, and Sec. Taguiwalo thought it best to make the report public as a measure of transparency and on the principle of accountability.
This entire series of events happened long before Sec. Taguiwalo joined the department and years before the current leadership of FO VII came to office.
The 12 container vans of private donations from Belgium for typhoon victims in Leyte have remained stuck in the International Port since they arrived in January 2014. The Belgian donors wanted the donations released as a tax-free importation, but many issues prevented the release of the same, among them compliance problems with Customs law and the logistics costs of moving goods to storm-damaged Leyte.
In a nutshell, the donations arrived in the Philippines in January 2014, but were only inspected by the DSWD in March 2015.
In the meantime, FO VII submitted its report to the office of Sec. Taguiwalo on January 30, 2017.
The following are excerpts from the report submitted by FO VII through Director IV Ma. Evelyn B. Macapobre.
On the second week of February 2014, a representative of Wellmade Motors and Development Corporation (WMDC), the original consignee of the shipment/donation from Mr. Johan De Pelsmaeker of Belgium, arrived at the One Stop Shop (OSS) in Mactan Airbase to process the release of the 12 container vans. Seven containers were shipped thru K-Line Shipping while the remaining 5, were shipped thru APL Shipping. Upon assessment at OSS, the consignee was not a /licensed/accredited NGO of DSWD, hence, he was given the following options:
Consignee to engage partnership with a DSWD registered / licensed / accredited NGO. To donate the goods to DSWD.
On December 17, 2014, about ten (10) months after several attempts of the donor to partner with NGOs/LGU for the release of the goods, a Deed of Donation and Acceptance between DSWD FO 7 and WMDC for the seven containers was finally executed. The five containers from APL were no longer donated since the donor earlier amended the in favor of DSWD based on the email from Mr. Patrick Reyes of CO-Donation Facilitation received by the Field Office on November 10, 2014.
To work out the release of the donated goods, the DSWD engaged the services of the broker who reported that for the five containers (APL) the demurrage and other fees amounted to Php10,000,000.00.
The DSWD submitted the Work and Financial Plan for the unwithdrawn containers at Cebu International Port to the Office on November 26, 2014 amounting to P28M. This includes the Belgium donations and donations from other countries.
Since the DSWD Field Office VII did not receive a reply from the DSWD Central Office despite several follow-up, the Field Office decided to use its remaining 'Yolanda' funds for the destination charges and other fees at BOC, CPA, OPASCOR and trucking services for the five container vans with documents that were in K-Line amounting to P400,000.00.
On January 7, 2015, the Informal Import Declaration and Entry was completely signed by the DSWD, (DOH), the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for the five container vans at K-Line only since the two others do not have the Bill of Lading and packing . Central Office (DRRROO) was alerted on the lack of documents for the two vans since DSWD FO VII could not withdraw it from the BOC.
Processing of documents resulted to the withdrawal of five container vans from K-Line on March 20, 2015 and brought to the CICC for temporary storage because there was no other place that can accommodate the volume of the goods.
When the container vans were opened on March 21, 2015, it was discovered that some of the cardboard boxes were wet and damaged and the contents were also either damaged or in the case of food items, already expired.
On March 21, 2015 to September 2016, the FO conducted segregation, and dispatching of goods from foreign donations in 248 containers.
From March 21 up until the second week of December 2015, there was no warehouse personnel yet. The request that the FO submitted on April 25, 2014 remained unacted upon. Only two staff from the Supply Section were deployed to work on the task on top of their regular functions. Twenty lifters/packers were engaged for 2 months to help the 2 staff. Warehouse personnel were hired on the second week of December 2015.
FO VII explained that among the factors that slowed down the segregation of the donated goods were their disaster operations to address the impact of typhoons Yolanda, Ruby, Senyang and the El Nino.
On March 30, 2015, FO VII sent a feedback report to then Sec. Corazon Soliman calling attention to the attention DRRROO and Warehouse Management and Donation Facilitation Division (WMDFD) on the status of foreign donation from Belgium. The report included a recommendation that the remaining seven containers (2 from K-Line and 5 from APL) unwithdrawn at BOC should be abandoned based on the condition of the goods that we already received.
The assessment of the Committee on Monetary Valuation revealed that the total value of usable goods received amounted to Php2,894,620.20 versus the 100,400 Euro (Php4,824,367.00) as reflected in the packing list.
According to FO VII, they held in abeyance the disposal of expired goods that they immediately identified because there was nothing else to be done about them. They focused on the usable items and made arrangements to dispatch them to 'Yolanda'-affected areas.
On September 14, 2016, the Inspection Committee conducted an inspection of goods for disposal and prepared its Final Inspection Report. The said report was forwarded to the Labangon warehouse staff for them to prepare the Waste Report.
As of January 30, 2017, FO VII has written and secured the approval of the BOC to inspect the remaining 7 containers under the responsibility of the DSWD. The inspection was conducted on December 2016 in the presence of Mr. Patrick Lami, a Belgian national who claimed to be a representative of the donor. Inspection showed the contents of the two vans contained clothes, dried food, shoes, beddings, canned food, kitchen utensils and that these were water-damaged. The same materials were found in the five other vans, but these to be dry. These goods will be pulled out from the seven container vans and taken to the Labangon compound for segregation.
Sec. Taguiwalo said that it was deeply regrettable that millions worth of material donations have been laid to waste, and the circumstances that led to the spoilage and destruction of the goods should be assessed so that these will not be repeated.
"DSWD will learn from this most unfortunate event and all the more enforce its internal measures to ensure that this will not happen again. We take responsibility for what happened and ask the Filipino people, especially the survivors of 'Yolanda' to forgive us. The most we can do is to promise that we will put into place a better, faster and more efficient mechanism to receive material donations and turn them over to their intended beneficiaries," she said.
"To our compatriots abroad and to our friends in the international community, we appeal to your understanding and also ask your forgiveness. We hope that this will not affect your deep sense of compassion for our kababayans during times when they need your support. As for us in the DSWD, we will work even harder to protect the donations that are entrusted to us in the name of those affected by calamities," she said. PIA/ DSWD