The head of the Department of Social Services and Development or DSSD (not Department of Social Welfare and Development as reported earlier) here apologized yesterday for what she claimed was the unintentional distribution of expired noodles to members of transport groups.
In a video statement released by the Public Information Office, DSSD head Pacita Tero said that in their haste to help those affected by the “sudden” imposition of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) by the national Inter-Agency Task Force against the corona virus disease 2019 or COVID-19, they were not able to check the expiry dates of the noodles.
“I want to apologize for the things that happened, although it’s not intentional,” Tero said.
She claimed that the rice given by the National Food Authority in May 2020 were newly milled rice but were not distributed that time because “indi pa masyado nabatyagan ang gutom (hunger was not that widespread).”
Earlier, Diego Malacad, president of the United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (UNDOC), said that he was flooded with complaints from their members who received food assistance from the DSSD on Friday.
Malacad said the noodles and pancit canton that UNDOC members received were expired as early as Sept 5 and those who ate the NFA rice complained of “upset stomach.”
Some of the recipients were from Barangay Handumanan where there are about 350 tricycle drivers, more than 100 jeepney drivers, and 70 E-bike and trisikad drivers.
Malacad said he also received a food pack, but he has not opened it yet.
He said he was criticized by the members as the distribution of the food packs was coordinated with him.
Malacad said he called the DSSD who advised them to clean the rice with water at least three times.
The transport leader said they are still thankful to Mayor Evelio Leonardia for the food packs but sadly “it did not help at all.”
Malacad said he learned that the food packs have been stored in a school since May 2020.
Malacad said UNDOC has more than19,000 members in the city, including jeepney, taxi, and tricycle drivers.
A certain Milrose Villegas from Barangay Banago posted photos of the alleged expired food items received by a relative who is a trisikad driver.
The post went viral on social media with more than 400 comments.
(Dolly Yasa via The Daily Guardian (TDG), photo by TDG)