By Chito A. Chavez
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on May 18, Monday, assured that no stones will be left unturned as the city government intensifies its bid to get rid of all corrupt barangay officials in the locality.
In particular, she cited rogue barangay officials who are involved in various anomalies related to the cash aid provided to low-income recipients under the social amelioration program (SAP).
Expressing absolutely no tolerance for corruption, Belmonte urged her constituents to report SAP-related irregularities committed by the city’s barangay officials, saying this will be of great help to the government’s drive to rid public service of corruption.
A fuming Belmonte had received numerous complaints ranging from illegal replication of SAP forms, qualified beneficiaries deprived of SAP forms in favor of preferred but unqualified recipients or relatives, the illegal deduction of “processing fees,” “donations” and “membership dues” from cash aid, and the redistribution of cash aid to several beneficiaries after the scheduled payout.
In a statement, the city reported that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Quezon City District Field Unit, under the supervision of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), had already filed multiple criminal cases against concerned barangay officials and employees relative to the SAP complaints beginning last week.
“As a matter of law and procedure, the corresponding administrative cases will likewise follow. All further information and evidence gathered regarding this matter will be promptly forwarded to the PNP and DILG for their appropriate action,’’ the statement noted.
Belmonte reminded her co-workers in government that public officials and employees must at all times uphold public interest over personal interest.
As the Quezon City government continues to cleanse its ranks of the abusive and the corrupt, it also sends out its heartfelt gratitude and commendation to all its officials and employees—the health, city, and barangay frontliners—who have consistently risen up to the challenge, [painstakingly] endured discrimination or undue hate, and have continuously sacrificed their own so that others may be served and taken-cared of,’’ the statement noted.
To recall, President Duterte cursed a certain kagawad Danilo Flores of Barangay San Agustin in Hagonoy Bulacan on national television for deducting P3,500 from the financial assistance received by his constituents.
Flores was later arrested by the police on orders of the President.
Duterte offered a P30,000 reward for any person who will report any irregularities committed by the barangay and LGU officials in the distribution of the cash aid under SAP.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque explained that pieces of evidence must be presented by the complainant to protect barangay and local officials from harassment and false charges in the name of due process before they can get the cash reward.
DILG Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño warned that, under the “Bayanihan to Heal as One” Act, corrupt barangay officials found guilty of SAP related irregularities may be fined P10,000 to up to P2 million or rot in jail for two months or both.
In addition, Diño noted that rogue barangay officials may also be perpetually disqualified from holding any elective or appointive government position.