Donor stands by report on stranded construction workers after release of UP statement

April 22, 2020 - 6:21 PM
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Construction workers
Undated photo of construction workers in a site. (Photo from the National Economic Development Authority)

One of the individuals who initiated the donation drive to feed construction workers allegedly stranded on the University of the Philippines’ Diliman campus addressed claims that they were spreading “fake news” following the state university’s statement on Wednesday morning.

Katrin Maria Escay in a Facebook post wrote that when her group started to assist the workers last week, there were those from “smaller sites” who weren’t able to receive assistance.

“A UP Faculty member na talagang umikot to all the sites reached out kasi their funds could not feed them all,” she said.

Escay said construction workers from the smaller sites “really had to scrounge around to eat whatever they could find” and added that ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol also reported about their plight last night.

The news program of the media giant was able to interview some construction workers who admitted that they initially struggled in looking for sustenance.

“That’s why we rushed to send 45 sacks of bigas total by yesterday so lahat talaga makakain. Right now, because of the outpouring of all the help, wala nang kumakain ng ganoon, thank God,” Escay added.

Hi everyone, we are responding to people saying that this drive is fake news and would like to address it directly.As…

Posted by Katrin Maria Escay on Tuesday, April 21, 2020

 

Alfred Allan Jose, who was cited by the Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP) as the founder of the Quezon City COVID-19 Food and Goods Donation Drive, similarly clarified his account about the construction workers.

In an exchange with Philstar.com, Jose said that PEP’s report on the workers resorting to eating stray animals like rats and cats was from “accounts from the people on the ground.”

The accounts, Jose said, spurred members of the QC-based donation drive to distribute 45 sacks of rice out of their own pockets.

He added that while there is a provision against fake news under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, they “also acknowledge the fact that people have the right to relay and account their own experiences of their situation, even though it does not conform with what our ideals and norms are.”

“There will be different sides, different stories, different opinions about the matter, but the fact remains, our brothers and sisters need help,” Jose continued.

A Facebook user also suggested that volunteers “coordinate” with UP Diliman’s Vice Chancellor’s office to avoid further conflict.

“They are aware of the workers in-campus and (had) facilitated transport of workers to their various hometowns, but could not do so for everyone because of policies by respective LGUs (local government units),” she wrote.

Jose responded that they were “able to talk to a representative” of UP on Wednesday morning.

Reports said that the construction workers were unable to go home to their respective provinces due to the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine which restricts travel and movement in a bid to contain the novel coronavirus. Mass transportation has also been suspended.

What UP Diliman said 

On Wednesday, UP Diliman issued a bulletin refuting accounts that construction workers stranded on campus had resorted to eating stray rats and cats, as well as picking fruits from trees, to alleviate their hunger.

It said that the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Development learned that they were provided with P4,000 on March 17 and with P2,000 on April 14 by their employers.

“The OVCPD also inspected their supply room, which contained three sacks of rice (25 kilograms each) and canned goods from the All UP Workers Union and other organizations inside the campus,” the bulletin said.

“According to one of the workers, they were shocked when the news went viral, because those photos were taken by a group of people who went to their site to distribute relief goods, but neither interviewed them nor asked about their situation,” it added.

UP Diliman mentioned that its COVID-19 Task Force will continue to address the needs of all its sectors and encouraged Filipinos to donate in light of the enhanced community quarantine.

Those interested may course their donations through the following: