The distribution of food packs to victims of the Mindoro oil spill has sparked controversy.
Recipients took to social media to voice out their displeasure about Ocean’s Best Tuna canned goods that are a part of the relief packs. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has responded by downplaying the complaints and suggesting that the problem may be due to the recipients’ palate rather than any issue with the food itself.
This reaction by the DSWD is not only insensitive but also dismissive of the disaster victims’ plight. These people are already suffering from the oil spill’s effects on their health and livelihoods, and the last thing they need is to be made to feel like their concern is being ignored.
The complaints are not just limited to oil spill victims from Oriental Mindoro. In fact, even those from as far as Semirara have voiced out their concerns.
Mary Jane Valdez Lusterio’s comment on Facebook sums it up perfectly, “Sayang lang kasi di mo talaga siya makain. At nakaka-disappoint lang kasi oo mahirap kami pero di naman deserve namin na makakain ng ganyan.”
The issue at hand is not whether the canned tuna is expired, or edible or not, but rather the fact that it smells and tastes bad. These people are entitled to make complaints about the food they’re receiving, whether it’s free or not.
The DSWD is missing the point when it sent samples to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for testing.
Why not make a simple test instead? Open a can of Ocean’s Best tuna and smell it, taste it.
After all, they should be doing this simple test procedure in every food items they send to relief recipients.
At the same time, passing the FDA’s food safety test does not invalidate the complaints that the canned tuna they distributed tasted and smelled awful.
Disaster victims, though in need, deserve access to food that is not only safe but also meets the standards of quality for human consumption.
The agency’s dismissive attitude towards the complaints not only adds insult to injury but also shows a lack of empathy for the welfare of oil spill victims.
In restoring the public’s confidence in a situation like this, the best approach to damage control is to seize the opportunity and demonstrate empathy, integrity, and a commitment to doing what is right.
That’s the right thing to do. Rather than putting the victims’ taste buds and integrity to the test.
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