MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) denied on Tuesday that it is repacking donated goods from other countries in bags bearing the agency's name.
Reiterating some of her statements in an earlier radio interview, DSWD secretary Dinky Soliman said they only unpack certain goods such as those sent in bulk and breakables like bottled items.
She said the former are separately bagged for easier distribution while the latter are placed in another container labeled "fragile."
“We do not repack, much more relabel, the individually packed international donations that are sent to us," Soliman said in a official statement.
Soliman said the agency has to ensure that all relief goods, particularly the food items, are fit for human consumption.
"That is why we inspect the contents of the bags, especially their expiration dates,” she said.
Soliman's statement comes after a relief volunteer alleged that the staff of the DSWD satellite repacking center at the Mactan Airbase in Cebu relabeled relief goods donated by Indonesia.
The volunteer named Cherrey Bartolata complained that this slowed down the distribution of the donated goods to the victims of Super Typhoon "Yolanda."
In another Facebook post, Bartolata hit back at Soliman and belied the official's claims.
"She doesn't really know what's happening there. She had been told a different story by the people in charge there. She knows but she's denying it," Bartolata said.
"Just because they explained what had been done, they can make people believe that's actually what happened?" she also said.
Bartolata added that during their volunteer work, they were not instructed to check the expiration dates of the donated goods.
"We were just asked to put it in a sack. If they would have us check the expiration date, then they should have let us check it right then and there. I couldn't understand why they were saying different reasons when their instructions proved otherwise," she said.
The relief volunteer said she is not the only one who has pointed out the alleged repacking of international relief goods.
"I have found people in the net who shared the same sentiment," she said. "I have tried gathering them already to attest that we are telling the truth."
The Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 prohibits anyone to misrepresent the source of relief goods, equipment or other aid commodities by repacking the donated goods or by covering, replacing, or defacing the labels of the containers to make it appear that they were from other agencies or donors.