Albay Governor Joey S. Salceda, concurrently Bicol Regional Development Council chairman, is proposing to give cash transfers to the internally displaced families in Samar and Leyte provinces rather than in-kind assistance.
Salceda explained that cash transfer is much better than providing in-kind assistance to the surviving victims of calamities since most of the time, markets do a better job of satisfying the needs of communities, households and individual victims.
“The exercise of consumer choice is intrinsic to the dignity of climate or disaster victims as persons; even renaming them as beneficiaries does very little to restore dignity, especially to the 595,000 families deprived of a roof upon their head,” according to him.
He pointed out that this is to avoid the dysfunctional but natural practice of bartering since one person probably has too much of sardines or would prefer “Ligo” sardines rather than “555.”
“While the grand avalanche of relief goods across the nation and across the globe will make some of these donations less attractive and may lead to significant wastage,” the Bicol official said.
One proposal is for donors to auction their collected in-kind donations and donate the proceeds to a particular local government unit, civil society organization or non-government organizations to support their operations.
He also said that for those in the city proper, another viable option is to give a community or a cluster of beneficiaries vouchers with an indicated amount, say P2,000.
“Then put up a PX commissary or hold an auction or bazaar where they can use such vouchers to purchase certain goods, say sardines up to 10 cans of Ligo priced at cost, NFA rice up to 25 kilos at P30,” he added.
If they find it costly, then they can buy another brand with lower price and that allows them to exercise their consumer preference, thus, reaffirm their standing as a productive member of a local economy, the governor said.
Just like during the period of relief for typhoon “Reming,” Salceda suggested that these 595,000 families should not be deprived of the chance to celebrate the spirit of Christmas.
“Since there was barely a few days to prepare, we should distribute Noche Buena packs to all families — which is nondiscriminatory based on the National Statistics Office since assigning rich/poor distinction only gives some barangay officials the pretext to make choices,” he recommended.
With more time to prepare right now, Salceda suggested that cash vouchers or Buena gift checks be given to all of the 595,000 displaced families and another P1,000 Media Noche gift check for New Year.
“That’s the least we can do for our brothers and sisters in this nation of 92-percent Christian and in this most meaningful period in our faith – the period of Hope,” the governor said.(for PNA by Mike de la Rama)