86 barangay chairmen suspended over SAP irregularities — Año

Around 86 barangay chairmen have been issued with preventive suspension order over the irregularities in the distribution of emergency cash aid under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said Thursday.

The DILG chief  assured the House Committee on Appropriations that it is exhausting all means to ensure that all local officials involved in the SAP irregularities will be penalized.

He noted that of the 93 administrative cases they filed against erring local officials, 86 persons have been issued with preventive suspension order.

"Kami din po sa DILG ay nag file ng administrative cases sa Ombudsman, 93 na po nai-file namin at magandang balita naman po sapagkat this week po ay nag-issue ang Ombudsman para sa preventive suspension ng 86 barangay captains, ito po ay isang malaking development,” Año told the panel during its deliberations on the DILG’s proposed P244.43 billion budget for 2021.  Earlier,  Bulacan 1st District Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado expressed disappointment over the snail-paced action of the DILG and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in running after the local officials who are involved in SAP anomalies.

(We, in the DILG have filed administrative cases against the Ombudsman, we have filed 93 and there is good news because this week, the Ombudsman has issued preventive suspension order for 86 barangay captains.)

“Ito po ay patuloy na tataas na numero, hindi po tayo titigil hangga’t hindi napaparusahan ang lahat ng nagbulsa at nagkorap ng pera ng SAP,” he assured.

(The number will continue to increase, we will not stop until those who pocketed and corrupted the funds intended for SAP will be penalized.).

He noted that 400 cases have been filed in connection with the anomalous distribution of SAP, over 200 of which are with the Prosecutor’s Office and about 80 are with the courts.

Alvarado welcomed Año’s pronouncement. "Nakikita pala natin may ginagawa naman pala ang DILG, sana po ay bilisan pa natin kasi andaming nagrerekamo sa amin hanggang ngayon hindi pa nakakatanggap ng SAP ng first tranche o second tranche eh yan ang dahilan 'yan ang mga magnanakaw na mga kagawad, kapitan, mga mayor kay hindi makatanggap ang taong bayan ng SAP,” he said.

(We see that the DILG is doing something, we hope that you expedite this because many have been complaining that until now they have not received their SAP, their first or second tranche because corrupt kagawads, captains, mayors stole the SAP funds.)

General Camilo Pancratius Cascolan, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), relayed to the panel that only two were arrested over the SAP anomalies.

During the Lower Chamber’s continued probe on SAP irregularities on August 16,  PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Director Joel Napoleon Coronel reported that only two persons have been arrested in the act of distributing SAP subsidy to unqualified beneficiaries.

He said that only two were arrested from the 1,103 probable suspects.

Coronel informed the House Committee on  Good Government and Public Accountability that as of August 24, 2020, the CIDG has investigated a total of 340 cases involving alleged SAP anomalies, of which there were 1,103 probable suspects with 745 complainants.

“Of the 1,103 suspects, 479 are elected public officials, while the rest are either local government workers, health workers, social workers and civilians,” he said.

Of the 479 elected public officials, two are mayors, two are vice mayors, eight are municipal and city councillors and the rest are barangay officials.

Coronel said majority of the cases are violations of Republic Act No. 3019 the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, numbering to about 235 incidents.

While, some cases are  violations of Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, Code of Conduct Ethical Public Standards; perjury; estafa; falsification of documents; and among others to include great coercion, and malversation  of public funds.

“As of present, we have filed a total of 341 cases with different prosecutor’s offices. Of these, 28 had been resolved while the rest, 245, are still pending preliminary investigation,” Coronel said.

He told the panel that the directive to investigate the SAP anomalies was given to the PNP by the Inter-agency Task Force last May 21, or two months after the SAP distribution was initiated.