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Sec. Soliman is dishonest, covers up her incompetence as head of DSWD – People Surge

Press Release
March 17, 2014

TACLOBAN CITY – The People Surge alliance for Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors today assailed Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman as a sneaky manipulator of public opinion who is covering up her incompetence as head of DSWD. “Sec. Soliman should be axed from her post for failing to serve the Yolanda survivors as the government's chief social worker,” said Sr. Edita Eslopor, spokesperson of People Surge.

“We in People Surge and supporters from Gabriela walked out of a pointless dialogue with Sec. Soliman last March 12; she wasn't listening to our complaints and gave no assurances that the DSWD would work to serve the survivors better. Worse, she even wanted us to do their job like monitoring the relief distribution. To our astonishment afterward, Soliman put on a show of denying the walkout and slyly said even she saw us out – of course, shutting the door on us was the best she could do.”

Eslopor said Soliman at the dialogue seemed slippery rather than a figure of sympathy when called to account for the DSWD's failures. “Sec. Soliman is out of touch with the reality relief operations may not be reaching the survivors, but worse than that, she does not care at all. When pressed at the dialogue what she could do about the problem, she blithely answered like a parcel delivery service, why not text DSWD and see how the packages are going along? She also shrugged that the DSWD only brings the relief goods to the local government units and it was no longer the department's problem whatever happens to these. Is this the kind of work the DSWD should be doing when it is a life and death matter for the survivors? And so we thought she is 'hands on' as she claims.”

With that context, the People Surge spokesperson noted that Sec. Soliman's promise that relief operations will not end this March rings hollow. "She however said that relief distribution will only stop for those who are 'back on their feet?' In the first place, there are no employment opportunities and comprehensive agricultural plan in place nor in the offing that will address the lack of livelihood and joblessness of the typhoon survivors, instead of brandishing the cash for work program, which aside from being implemented sporadically, is only a band aid solution to the problem," stressed Sr. Eslopor.

The People Surge convenor also criticized the conditional cash transfer program, saying that aside from being a shallow solution to the lingering poverty and hunger in the region, does not benefit all the poor, is selective, and have so many requisites before one family becomes a beneficiary of the program.

“Without oversight by the national government through the DSWD ensuring the survivors will indeed receive help, the relief operations will still take a tortuous route, and there is no assurance the goods will not be rotten. Despite the obvious difficulties this means for the survivors, Sec. Soliman at the dialogue also dismissed outright the demand for P40,000 cash assistance to the survivors. She also refused to reconsider the Aquino government's order of a “No Build Zone” that worsens the plight of the survivors in displacing them from their homes and livelihood.”

But Eslopor also said that firing Soliman would not instantly solve the struggle for recovery of the Yolanda survivors. “It is one thing to ensure that Yolanda survivors will be helped back to their feet, and another thing that they will fully resume their lives. If the short term solution of relief operations is being done haphazardly, it is even more dangerous to turn a blind eye to the P65 billion damage to agriculture on which the majority of the people depend. We urge the Aquino government to immediately address the need of the peasantry for food and cash crops, as well as continuing support for farm inputs, irrigation, and other needs that will solve the devastation wrought by Yolanda on agriculture in the region. This government must also seriously address the unemployment problem," ended Sr. Eslopor.