Some typhoon survivors who wanted to take advantage of free calls being offered by telecommunication companies were turned away by local officials because the victims were not their supporters.
Some of the victims who wanted to phone their relatives in Manila and other areas were driven out of the queue by barangay officials, according to Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone.
Evardone said some people, despite waiting for hours, were not allowed to make free calls after barangay officials learned that the victims supported their political rivals.
He did not identify these officials but he said what they did was “very disturbing.”
“These are free services being offered by private companies and yet it is being used by local officials for politicking,” he lamented. He said some of the victims were immediately sent away by barangay officials assigned to man the line.
“If this is happening on free call services provided by private companies, what more on the distribution of relief goods which is being handled by local government units?” the lawmaker told reporters.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin earlier disclosed cases of politicking in the distribution of relief goods in storm-ravaged areas.
Despite criticisms for the slow response of the national government and the slow distribution of relief goods, the Senate has said that it has no plans of asking the heads of different government agencies why it took them at least five days to reach the victims during the budget deliberation.
“This is not the time for finger pointing and blame game. We should focus more on how to help the victims and ease their sufferings,” Sen. Francis Escudero said.
“The government is doing what it can to reach and provide assistance to the victims. Putting them (officials) on the spot will not help speed up the relief operations,” Escudero said.