By Chito Chavez
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday, May 26, said that 134 barangay officials are now facing criminal raps for social amelioration program (SAP)-related anomalies before the Prosecutor’s Office of the Department of Justice (DOJ). There has been an increase of 320 percent in the number of suspected violators.
“More people are coming forward to file complaints against their barangay officials on alleged anomalies in the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) pay-out,’’ the DILG statement noted.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said the barangay officials were the subject of the complaints for alleged offenses in the distribution of the first tranche of SAP cash aid in just “a matter of four days.’’
On May 20, Año noted only 42 barangay officials were charged by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation Group (PNP-CIDG) but the number has increased dramatically.
A disgusted Año lamented that these violations by the dishonorable barangay officials wouldn’t get unnoticed as evidenced by the surge of complaints.
Adding further, Año said it was unthinkable how these deceitful barangay officials were able to stomach stealing and depriving the poorest of the poor of their SAP cash aid.
With the betrayal of public trust, Año said that they (corrupt barangay officials) deserved to rot in jail.
Nine more cases, according to Año, are set to be filed in the next few days as the PNP-CIDG “is fast tracking the case build-up on 86 other cases.’’
He commended the PNP-CIDG for its expeditious handling of all complaints by the public on SAP anomalies.
“Good job to the PNP-CIDG! Mabuhay kayo (The PNP-CIDG did a good job. Hail to them),” Año said.
Año said 318 complainants went to the PNP-CIDG and its regional field units to express their disgust and disappointment and gave “their statements over the wrongdoings of their barangay officials during the SAP distribution’.’
DILG spokesperson and undersecretary Jonathan Malaya thanked the Department of Justice and the prosecutor general for ordering all provincial and city prosecutors to prioritize the preliminary investigation of cases against barangay officials allegedly involved in SAP anomalies so that criminal information may be filed with the courts.
“We are grateful to the DOJ and the prosecutor general for prioritizing these cases. We need to send a strong message to corrupt barangay officials that their criminal activities will not be tolerated,” Malaya said.
DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento have instructed all of the country’s prosecutors to set the preliminary investigations as soon as possible, to monitor progress of such cases which have taken on “a sinister and disgraceful character, considering that money intended for poor, hungry people is unlawfully taken away from them.”
In Boac, Marinduque, a barangay chairman, two barangay kagawads, and SK chairperson have been charged because of their alleged illegal collection of P50 processing fee from each SAP beneficiary.
A similar incident was reported in Binmaley, Pangasinan where the barangay captain and his cohort reportedly collected P1,000 from a complainant after receiving his SAP assistance.
In Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, Malaya said the residents complained that a barangay captain had deducted P2,000 from 132 SAP recipients.
“Akala siguro nitong mga opisyal ng barangay na ito ay middleman sila at kailangang may komisyon sila mula sa SAP (Maybe these officials thought they were middlemen who are entitled fro commissions from the SAP),” Malaya said.
In other barangays, such as Sta. Maria in Ilocos Sur, Talisay City in Cebu, and Nasipit in Agusan del Norte, Malaya said that the barangay officials were the subject of complaints after allegedly “acting with deceit, dishonesty, and false information by including the names of their relatives in the list of SAP beneficiaries, although they were not qualified, leaving out the poorest of the poor in the barangay who had no means of income’.’
Malaya said “politics was sometimes at play in the giving out of SAP in some barangays, particularly in Eastern Samar, where a barangay captain reported that the mayor of his town allegedly deprived all of the residents in his barangay from receiving SAP because he is not a political supporter of the mayor.’’
Malaya said that the DILG had repeatedly announced that being a relative, supporter or close friend, is not a qualification for the SAP cash aid.