DSWD-6 did not approve Antique food pack release

By Jennifer P. Rendon

On April 29, a heated argument escalated into a physical confrontation between Mayor Ernesto Tajanlangit III and Vice Mayor Jose Ma. Fornier of Tobias Fornier, Antique.

At the heart of their dispute was the premature distribution of food packs intended for residents affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Region 6 later confirmed that these family food packs had not received approval for release.

The incident followed the declaration of a state of calamity in Antique Province on April 18, due to severe El Niño impacts.

Atty. Carmelo Nochete, the regional director of DSWD-6, disclosed that while the local government did submit a request for the food packs, approval had not yet been granted.

The agency is currently investigating why the food packs were en route to distribution without authorization.

DSWD-6 said it strives to assist families affected by disasters or crises impartially, without political bias.

The agency maintains Preposition Sites to expedite aid delivery, bypassing the need to retrieve supplies directly from the regional warehouse in Iloilo.

For Antique province, these supplies are stored under the provincial government’s oversight in Barangay Badiang, San Jose.

According to Nochete, a memorandum of agreement stipulates that the local government unit cannot distribute these supplies without DSWD’s express approval.

The approval process requires a Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) report, a formal request letter, and a distribution report outlining the logistics of the distribution.

Following a viral video of the altercation, Nochete personally visited Tobias Fornier to oversee the recovery and distribution of 1,800 food packs, which began distribution to affected families on Tuesday.

NO CASE FILED YET

According to police reports, the altercation occurred at Poblacion Norte, Tobias Fornier.

Based on police reports, Tajanlangit and Fornier figured in a physical altercation at around 12:10 p.m. on Monday while at Poblacion Norte, Tobias Fornier.

As reported, the two first engaged in a verbal tussle as to where the family food packs be delivered.

Capt. Charles Richard Casalan, the local police chief, noted that the disagreement centered on whether the food packs should be stored at the DSWD social hall or the Department of Agriculture warehouse.

A cellphone video captured Fornier slamming the delivery van’s door on Tajanlangit twice. The mayor retaliated by punching Fornier.

Several individuals, including policemen, intervened to prevent further escalation of the fight.

Following the dispute, both officials recorded their statements at the police station.

Vice Mayor Fornier expressed regret over the incident and revealed that he had arranged for additional food packs with Governor Rhodora “Dodod” Cadiao, who had approved the request. He claimed that the governor had instructed him to collect the food packs in San Jose town.

Fornier added that Tajanlangit intercepted the delivery van with the intention of distributing the food packs himself to the affected residents.

“This misunderstanding escalated until I was punched,” he explained.

Fornier accused Tajanlangit of trying to take control of the distribution, which he had organized with Governor Cadiao. He expressed sadness and shame over how the events unfolded.

Meanwhile, Tajanlangit described the incident as unfortunate, alleging that Fornier was the instigator of the conflict. He opposed Fornier’s plan to distribute the food packs, asserting that the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office should oversee the distribution.

Tajanlangit emphasized that elected officials should not interfere with the operations managed by the MSWDO.

Tajanlangit also requested understanding from the public, asserting his commitment to the welfare of the affected residents.

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