By Chito Chavez
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday said that 183 barangay officials are being investigated by the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) for alleged irregularities in the cash aid distribution under the social amelioration program (SAP).
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said complaints continued to pour in the DILG and DSWD hotlines and consequently, the PNP-CIDG acted on the complaints so that 183 barangay officials are now under investigation.
With the mounting number of SAP-related complaints received by the DILG, Año revealed that the PNP is looking forward to arresting the corrupt government officials.
Despite the rising number of complaints, Año assured that the PNP will still relentlessly pursue the arrest of deceitful, unprincipled and corrupt barangay officials.
Año said that identities of the 183 barangay officials cannot be disclosed yet as investigations are currently underway.
He added “that there are multiple complaints coming in directed to the same barangay officials leading to the piling up of accumulated reports’’.
Explaining further, Año disclosed that the DILG has been sorting out the numerous complaints to pin down the guilty parties as initially 183 barangay officials are being probed.
He said that as early as the first week of May, arrests of corrupt barangay officials began, starting with the barangay councilor from Hagonoy, Bulacan who was personally mentioned by President Duterte in a public address.
Año noted that Barangay Captain Maria Luz Leal Ferrer of Barangay 8 in Isabela, Negros Occidental was also charged by the PNP for alleged anomalies in the distribution of the government’s SAP financial aid.
The DILG chief said that following a thorough investigation conducted by PNP Isabela, Ferrer was accused of falsifying the list of beneficiaries in her barangay.
Reports and accounts from the credible witnesses and scrutiny of the alleged manipulated list of SAP beneficiaries also point to the suspect. Mae Fajardo, a municipal social worker, was also arrested together with Ferrer for allegedly falsifying the official SAP recipient list, Año said.
Ferrer was charged for the violation of Republic Act 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code for falsification of public documents together with Fajardo.
The DILG has recently ordered the PNP and requested the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to give utmost priority in investigating reports of graft and corruption in the distribution of SAP financial assistance in the community.
Report incidents of corruption
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya encouraged everyone to report incidents of “kaltas (deduction),” “splitting,” falsification, and other corrupt practices to the nearest police station or DILG field office located in their locality.
“Magandang simula na may 183 barangay officials na ang iniimbestigahan ng ating kapulisan (This is a good start that 183 barangay officials are being probed by the police). This only means that the people are participating and are aware of their responsibility in protecting their rights,” said Malaya.
Malaya urged that the President and the DILG is one with the public in removing barangay officials out of their posts and at the same time having them arrested.
He noted that the President’s P30,000 bounty on every confirmed report of corruption in the barangay is an assurance that he backs the arrest of these scalawags.
Malaya urged all concerned individuals to call the government Hotline 8888 for graft and corruption cases against barangay and local officials assuring that all DILG and PNP stations and hotlines are open to receive reports from the people.