Cavite town takes back rice aid from 4Ps families hours after distribution
MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of families at a relocation site in Naic, Cavite, were dismayed when local government workers took back sacks of rice given to them as aid hours after these were distributed on Thursday, April 30.
Three residents of the Ericka Louise Ville compound in Barangay Malainen Bago spoke to Rappler about the incident. They provided a video that they said showed the local government workers reloading the 25-kilo rice sacks onto the truck they arrived on. The video is at the top of this page.
Worried they might get backlash from local authorities for speaking to the media, the 3 residents asked to remain anonymous for this report.
The roughly 300 families who were denied rice sacks were beneficiaries of the national government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a stipend program for poor families.
Naic Mayor Junio Dualan earlier announced on his official Facebook page that 4Ps beneficiaries were not entitled to the rice aid, so the 4Ps families in the compound were delighted when the mayor said there and then that they, too, would receive a sack of rice that day.
In the same compound, some 600 other families who were not 4Ps beneficiaries got to keep their share of the rice aid.
The families at Ericka Louise Ville were informal settlers relocated from Tondo, Manila, in May 2019.
A pleasant surprise
At around 2 pm on Thursday, local government workers led by Mayor Dualan arrived at Ericka Louise Ville to supervise the distribution of the rice sacks, each containing 25 kilos of the staple.
A news crew from ABS-CBN also arrived and covered the aid distribution.
A representative from each of the roughly 900 families from the compound’s 39 blocks queued up under the sun to receive their rice sacks. The distribution was carried out in alphabetical order.
According to a resident mother, whose husband is a construction worker, around the time the distribution process reached family names starting with the letter C, the mayor left the compound.
The distribution was to take until that evening to finish. Soon, the ABS-CBN news crew left, too.
Later in the afternoon, hours after Dualan and the TV crew were gone, the local government workers in charge of the distribution suddenly recalled the rice sacks given to the 4Ps families.
These workers reportedly told residents it was the mayor who ordered to take back the rice given to the 4Ps families.
When some of the 4Ps families tried to hold on to their rice sacks, the workers threatened to strike their names off the 4Ps list. The choice was either they kept the rice or their membership in the program.
A woman, whose husband had just lost his job, told Rappler she knew that beneficiaries could not be taken out of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s list just like that. Still, afraid that they would be cut from the social welfare list, residents hauled their rice sacks back to the distribution area.
At dusk, haulers loaded the returned rice sacks onto the same truck they arrived on earlier that day.
‘Ang sakit sa loob’
“Ang sakit sa loob nu’n. Kasagsagan ng init, akalain mong ipabitbit sa iyo yung sakong bigas, tapos ipababalik?” the woman said. (That was painful. It was the hottest part of the day. They make you carry the sack of rice only to take it back?)
The rice sacks would have fed their families for weeks, and some who lived blocks away from the distribution site shelled out their last few coins for a tricycle to take them home with the 25-kilo “blessing.”
The woman whose husband is unemployed told Rappler she knew a family who already cooked some of the rice they received. They still had to return the opened sack.
If it had been a mistake and they really weren’t supposed to have received anything, then what they deserved was an apology, not a threat to be dropped from the 4Ps list, she added.
A young man who witnessed the whole incident was heartbroken for the poor families. “Hindi naman sila nag-expect. Sinabihan sila bigla, so nag-expect na sila. Tapos babawiin,” he told Rappler. (They were not expecting anything. But then they were told [they would receive something] so they began to expect. Then it was taken back.)
Rappler sent Mayor Dualan several messages to ask whether he knew of the incident, and to clarify the matter. He has not responded to these queries as of this posting. – Rappler.com