Philippine quake island officials accused of aid ‘hoarding’

Philippine quake island officials accused of aid ‘hoarding’

MANILA - The Philippine government said Tuesday it was investigating allegations that local officials on an island devastated by an earthquake are withholding aid to residents in need.

While large deliveries of aid have arrived in Bohol, mainly from the national government, some residents have complained they had not received any from their local officials a week after a 7.1-magnitude quake hit the island, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said.

"It is not right that relief goods given by the national and provincial governments are hoarded at (municipal and district) offices," he said in a statement.

"If this is really happening, those responsible must be prosecuted for relief hoarding," he said without naming names.

He said Bohol police were ordered to monitor aid distribution for signs of hoarding.

The quake left 190 people dead, most of them on Bohol.

It also damaged more than 50,000 homes, and 111,000 Bohol residents are staying in government-run camps, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

Relief officials said many others were camped out in tents outside their homes amid frequent aftershocks.

The aid controversy has centred on Maribojoc, a town of 20,000 people about 15 kilometres (nine miles) west of the quake's epicentre.

Mayor Leoncio Evasco said he asked the Red Cross to leave the town Thursday, saying the organisation had disrupted Maribojoc's aid distribution system.

The Red Cross said the local authorities had asked them to hand over aid to them, and that they had refused.

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