MANILA: The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to immediately investigate reported anomalies in relation to the distribution of cash aid from the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) like splitting or not giving the correct amount.
This came following the arrest and detention of a barangay kagawad (village councilor) who allegedly pocketed more than half of the SAP cash aid intended for poor families in Hagonoy, Bulacan.
President Rodrigo Duterte has also offered a PHP30,000 reward to any person who will give information that will lead to the arrest of these corrupt local officials.
“I am directing PNP units all over the country and also requesting the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to prioritize the investigation of graft and corruption cases against local officials on SAP distribution. Greedy and corrupt officials should have no place in the government. They are carriers of a malignant virus that destroys the trust the people gave to them,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año in a news release, as he expressed dismay over the reported incident in Hagonoy caught on video.
Año said the alleged illegal acts of Barangay Kagawad Danilo Flores, 66, of Barangay San Agustin in Hagonoy, Bulacan is “disgraceful and downright shameful” as public officials should be the ones helping poor families especially during the health crisis.
“Nakakahiya! (Shame on him!) Ang SAP ay kinuha mula sa kaban ng bayan bilang ayuda sa mga salat sa buhay at walang kabuhayan sa gitna ng (SAP is from government funds and is intended as aid for the needy and those who are jobless amid the) Covid-19 crisis. Hindi ito dapat ibulsa ng sinumang opisyal ng lokal na gobyerno (It should not be pocketed by any local government official),” he added.
Flores was caught on video telling SAP financial aid recipients that they would only get PHP3,000 of the cash aid and that the remaining PHP3,500 would be given to the town mayor for distribution to non-SAP beneficiaries. However, Hagonoy Mayor Raulito Manlapaz denied Flores’ claims and denied any involvement.
The video went viral on social media which prompted the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) personnel to seek police assistance.
Flores was arrested on Saturday night for violation of Sec. 3 (b) Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and for violation of the Bayanihan Act.
Año warned that similar incidents will not be tolerated and sanctions will be meted against corrupt local officials. He assured those accused of due process but emphasized that the law will be imposed especially during this Covid crisis.
“Hindi talaga masikmura ng taumbayan ang pambubulsa ng SAP. Ang daming umaasa at naghihintay nito tapos pagkatanggap pa ay may kaltas na (The people cannot stomach corruption involving SAP. Many are expecting and waiting for this aid only to receive aid with deductions). It is an injustice to the beneficiaries and an unjust enrichment of corrupt officials,” he said.
While the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation are directed to investigate the criminal aspect, Año also directed the department’s regional directors to form their respective provincial investigating teams to look into and pursue administrative cases against these corrupt local officials that may lead to their suspension and dismissal from public office.
These teams will be submitting to the DILG Central Office their regular reports of the actions they have taken.
“Mas nakabantay ngayon ang taumbayan sa pamamahala ng local na gobyerno (The people are keeping a close watch on the measures of local government units). Turn this challenge to an opportunity for you to show your compassion and the reason you ran for public office in the first place. Kusa namang makikita at masasabi ng mga tao kung kayo’y matino, mahusay at tunay na maaasahan (The people themselves will see and tell whether you are good, bright and truly reliable),” he said.