By Allen Estabillo
GENERAL SANTOS CITY: Five beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) in South Cotabato province are facing perjury and estafa charges for allegedly claiming twice the PHP5,000 emergency cash assistance.
Cezario Joel Espejo, Department of Social Welfare and Development-Region 12 director, said Thursday the violators were found by the agency through a locally-developed application that it commissioned to track beneficiaries of the assistance program.
He said they are currently preparing the complaint against the five personalities, who were from the municipalities of Tupi and Lake Sebu.
A team tasked to review the SAP releases submitted by local government units (LGUs) in Region 12 or Soccsksargen managed to secure the pictures and details of the double claimants, he said.
“It came out in our system that they claimed the financial assistance two times. We already identified the perpetrators and the photos showing them receiving the cash assistance in two different barangays were undeniable,” he told reporters.
Espejo said the erring claimants, whose identities were withheld pending the filing of formal charges, even used their own names and might have thought that they would not be discovered.
He said they would look into the possible connivance between the perpetrators and local officials.
“It is quite unbelievable that these persons used two names in different barangays but it was not flagged,” he said.
The official said the fraudulent acts were clear violations of the implementing guidelines of the SAP, which was among the assistance programs implemented by the national government under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
The cash assistance was aimed to ease the effects of the enhanced community quarantine measures in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Espejo said he ordered their personnel to double-check their database and other lists of beneficiaries submitted by LGUs for other possible cases of multiple claims.
He said the list was among the requirements for the liquidation of SAP funds released by the national government.
As of Wednesday, the agency said over PHP3.3 billion in cash subsidy, or 98.82 percent of the allotted funds were already released to some 660,457 beneficiaries in the region.
DSWD-12 targeted a total of 668,287 families from Soccsksargen’s 45 municipalities and five cities that were affected by the Covid-19 crisis as beneficiaries of the SAP assistance. (PNA/MNY/RSP)