The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has burned at least four container vans of donations that were supposedly intended for victims of super typhoon Yolanda which affected northern Cebu and led to at least 6,300 fatalities in October 2013.
The said foreign donations were thereby declared abandoned in June last year by the BOC.
The items consisted of used clothing, diapers, soaps, shampoos, canned goods, and medical supplies were supposed to be donated in 2014 but the donors did not get the needed tax exemption for payment of taxes and duties, among others, from the Department of Finance (DOF).
According to Elvira Cruz, BOC Cebu District Collector:
“It wasn’t processed, the donor did not want to pay taxes and at the same time he didn’t have a permit, did not have exemption because the requirement there is to get an exemption from the Department of Finance. It was not computed (the estimated total amount of the items) because the entry was not filed, hindi sya nabuksan.”
The relief goods which came from the United States, Belgium, and Norway arrived in January 2014 at the Cebu International Port but were never distributed to its intended beneficiaries.
While the donors were unable to secure tax exemption from the DOF, the three consignees – ABS-CBN Foundation, DSV Air and Sea, and Well Made Motors and Devt. Corp. – also failed to pay customs charges for storage and demurrage.
Since the shipment arrived in 2014, the food stocks were already expired upon inspection and therefore could not be sold to the public.
“It’s sayang but we have to follow the law,” Cruz said.
The items were destroyed through thermal burning at RRDS Petro Chemical Industries Inc. in Purok Tambis, Brgy. Umapad, Mandaue City in Cebu. The condemnation was witnessed by a representative from the Commission on Audit.
Photos of the disposal have spread across social media angering netizens. They said that the bulks could have benefited thousands of survivors.
Some also claimed that when the donors learned about the fate of the relief goods, they couldn’t help but tear up.