Do Hapless Victims of Natural Disasters Get Their Share Of Donations?

by Joseph G. Lariosa

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
— Harry S Truman, 33rd president of US (1884-1972)

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – If fence-setters are frustrated in wondering where the donations for earthquake, typhoon and disasters end up, think of those overseas Filipinos and other foreign donors how helpless and powerless they are in finding out if their donations had really gone to the deserving recipients.

The public back-and-forth between the Philippine Red Cross executive and a mayor of Bohol in the aftermath of the recent devastating earthquake speak volumes in adding to the corruptions woes of a country, which is plagued by massive corruption spree pulled by the senators and congressmen, who are accused of helping themselves with PDAF (Philippine Development Assistance Fund).

 

A Filipino Canadian, Dr. Celso Mendoza, a scientist, recalls of some Fil-Can group, which sent thousands of dollars of donations to typhoon victims in Laguna some time ago, learned that the donations ended up in the custody of some barangay captains, instead of the suffering typhoon victims.

That’s the trouble with Filipinos who have been defined by the Filipino proverb that those who are malapit sa kusina ay yon lang mga nauulingan (drawn near the kitchen are they only ones who get the charcoal soot). If you are far and away from the food chain, your fate in getting a share from the largess of the good-hearted donors is at the mercy of those third-party donors, like the barangay captains or mayors, who may or may not part with the donations to the neediest without getting something in return.

To make things more transparent, why can’t the public and the private sectors come together in putting up common list of calamity victims in the ground zero of the disaster areas?

There is a widely held mistaken notion that only the government can help the neediest among the governed. No. On the contrary, the government still needs the support of the private sectors despite the adverse publicity generated by the NGO’s (non-government organizations) following the PDAF scandal.

NAMES OF VICTIMS SHOULD BE LISTED ONLINE

This is where the hated introduction of the national ID (identification data) system comes into play again.

As barangay captains, mayors and governors gather the list of names of victims devastated by calamity, there is need for the list of the calamity victims to go up online. With proper ID’s of the breadwinner of the family victims posted on the internet, donors such as the Philippine Red Cross, the Philippine government department of social welfare and development (DSWD), the overseas Filipinos and other foreign donors can “adopt” these families by sending the donations directly to the family victims. They can send money door-to-door to these family victims.

Once the family victims receive the donations, the family victims should ask the gatekeeper of the list to remove their names from list of calamity victims to avoid duplication of receiving donations at the expense of those, who have yet to receive any.

If the family victims have been taken care of by OFWs’ or other foreign donors, then the Philippine National Red Cross and the barangay captains and/or the mayors or governors may now come forward to help other families still listed online and have yet to receive any form of donation.

This way, more family victims will be getting help in a transparent manner.

By letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing, by disclosing the names of the recipients and the amount of donations being given away, the public and the private sectors are trying to reach out to the needy victims, not abandon them.

But it is always a given that donations are not always enough. Some victims will end up getting something while others get nothing. But it is always better for everybody to reach out than do nothing.

MONEY TRUMPS IN-KIND DONATIONS

Sending money to the calamity victims trump any in-kind donation by prospective donors. Money will give recipients an option to find out what they want to buy with the money according to their priority needs.

Clothing, blankets, canned goods, etc. that some donors may send to the calamity victims may only end up at ukay-ukay (relief) stores owned or managed by a mayor or a barangay captain, not the calamity victims.

Even long before calamity strikes, the barangay captains, using the list of voters in their area, should be able to determine, who are the victims in their area. The list of victims should be readily made available to Philippine Red Cross volunteers, the DSWD, and other non-for-profit organizations, which will cancel out names from list victims every time they are able to help family victims. This transparency will prevent confusion in helping family victims, when there are still family victims, who are yet to be extended monetary or medical help.

Only by seeing their money getting to the calamity victims will overseas Filipinos and foreign donors open up their wallets in the calamity-challenged Bohol province and Cebu, reeling under a massive earthquake that killed hundreds, recently, and hopefully in the future.

I just met the charismatic Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto recently in Chicago and my heart really bleeds for the earthquake victims. Let’s keep the help coming! (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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