By Chito Chavez
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) vowed to act on corruption complaints in government even during the campaign and election period.
DILG spokesman Jonathan Malaya said that hotline 8888 and complaints before the National Action Center (NAC) remain valuable avenues in the Duterte administration’s uphill battle against corruption.
He stressed the law mandates the DILG to take action against corrupt LGUs insisting that the election and campaign period does not bar the agency from performing its rightful duty.
In the midst of accusations of bias towards the President’s supporters, Malaya shrugged off such claims citing the DILG was compelled to conduct probes on 37 towns and cities for alleged anomalies in the disbursement of public funds.
In defending the DILG’s act even at the height of the recent filing of certificate of candidacy (COC) of political aspirants for the 2019 mid-term elections, Malaya explained that these complaints were received through the government hotline 8888 and the National Action Center.
Earlier, the DILG said the government loses around P30-billion to corruption.
Malaya said that the complaints against the 37 towns and cities ranged from the presence of fixers, rogue LGU personnel, and inadequate and deficient delivery of public services.
He disclosed that most complaints received through government hotline 8888 and the National Action Center were SALN-related or when local officials fail to disclose properties or business interests in their SALN.
If proven, officials may be charged with serious dishonesty or neglect of duty.
Second on the list includes the no bidding or irregular bidding. Third are projects that were not consulted or approved by the Sanggunian.
Malaya said that as a requirement, all contracts must pass through the Sanggunian for its approval. Violators of this provision may face grave misconduct charges.
Fourth among the complaints is related to the release of public funds, like illegal disbursement or diversion of public funds for another purpose while the fifth and sixth are unliquidated cash nepotism, respectively.
Although the DILG refers most of its cases to the undermanned Office of the Ombudsman which handles thousands of cases, Malaya said the DILG acts on some cases especially those very grave in nature.
Malaya maintained that the DILG has control over the local government units as stated in Republic Act 6795 or Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990.
He reasoned out that there is no existing law that states that the Ombudsman has the sole power to investigate corrupt cases.
Citing as examples, Malaya said other agencies like the Commission on Audit (COA), Civil Service Commission (CSC) and Philippine National Police (PNP) can assist the Ombudsman in the investigation of corrupt government workers.
Malaya clarified that the DILG is mandated by Republic Act 6975 (DILG Act) that states its general authority over the local government units (LGU).
As part of the “Bantay Corruption’’ program, Malaya said the DILG may investigate cases with the help of the PNP.
He noted the PNP’s vast experience in investigating cases is a vital tool to come up with a fair and accurate disposition of the complaints.
Earlier, the DILG has endorsed about 300 cases to the PNP-CIDG for investigation with 37 being subpoenaed using the subpoena powers of the police.