BAGUIO CITY — Kabataan Party-list Cordillera and Tulong Kabataan Coordinator Christian Dave Ruz answered the posts on social media, alleging activists are not assisting in the relief efforts for the Taal volcano eruption.

“Where were the Baguio youth activists for the past weeks? Doing the grind for #TulongKabataan #TulongTaal packing gulay (vegetables), sorting goods, clothes, and other donations!” said Christian Dave Ruz KPL Cordillera and Tulong Kabataan coordinator in Baguio City.

He said that while activists and kindhearted individuals are engaged in donation drives and volunteer work, “Duterte and his minions were busy propagating smear campaign against us.”

Tulong Kabataan reported on its Facebook that its donation bottles in schools produced around P34,000. The group said they already transferred the amount to the group’s central fund for the relief effort.

“The collected amount will be used to purchase relief packs to be delivered from Tulong Kabataan National Relief Drive from UP Diliman,” the post said.

Besides the cash, they also collected donations in kind, which they brought to Inglay’s Restaurant, one of the drop-off centers in La Trinidad. The group said the goods were delivered to Batangas on January 23, along with other donations from the Cordillera.

Just days after the eruption, pro-administration and, police and military social media accounts flooded Facebook and Twitter with memes asking where the activists are in times of disasters.

One particular material, which was posted by Facebook Page Tipong Makabayan, was shared 2,237 times and 469 reactions as of this posting.

Among those who shared the meme were the Facebook accounts of the 81st and 24th Infantry Battalion. The two military units are under the 7th Infantry Division covering the Ilocos provinces, Abra, and Besao and Tadian in Mountain Province.

According to Ruz, the “showcase of vibrant Bayanihan” from the private sector is commendable. However, he underscored that people should not forget why “individuals and non-government groups are doing the work that the government should be leading.”

“Our inutile and corrupt government messed up for slashing billions of budget for calamity funds, science and research, and diverting billions of funds for guns, war, and the military,” he said.

“People pay taxes, but now our government pleads for donation? Our question is simple: where did our taxes go?” the youth leader added.

He was referring to the pronouncement of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año regarding his office’s response to the eruption.

“We call on the public to donate clean drinking water, food, emergency medicines, and other essentials (e.g., tents, mats, blankets, water containers, cooking pots, etc.) for the use of those currently in evacuation centers. The donations may be coursed through the DSWD or directly to the LGUs,” the DILG chief said in a statement.

Año’s appeal did not sit well from netizens, who reminded him that the Duterte administration slashed the proposed calamity budget by P11 billion. Meanwhile, Congress allocated P4.5 billion for confidential intelligence funds.

Ruz said the government has long abused the resilience and willingness to help of the Filipino people. He stressed that “people should hold public officials accountable for failing to allocate funds for calamities and disasters based on the worst-case scenario.”

“It seems that our officials do not learn from their mistakes in responding to calamities and disasters. They failed to take into account the fact that we are vulnerable to multiple hazards. The Taal incident affirmed that our government does not take science seriously,” he added.

Tulong Kabataan volunteers, who made the Taal response happen, came from the University of the Philippine Baguio, Saint Louis University, University of Baguio, University of the Cordilleras, and Benguet State University. # nordis.net

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