A legal team has been created in the regional office of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) based in Cebu City to handle complaints and verify reported anomalies in the distribution of the emergency cash aid of the government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
DILG-7 Regional Director Leocadio Trovela said the legal team in their office is tasked to look into irregularities being reported to their emergency hotline system that includes hotline numbers and social media platforms, as well as from walk-in complainants.
“DILG Secretary Eduardo Año issued a directive to all DILG and police directors nationwide to verify complaints of irregularities in the handing out of the SAP cash aid in the barangays,” said Trovela.
Trovela said they received a total of 47 complaints, with Cebu City logging more than 50 percent at 28, followed by Cebu province with nine, and six from Bohol.
Three complaints were registered from Negros Oriental and one from Siquijor, he added.
The DILG-7 chief said 38 of the cases have been referred to their field offices for verification of the complaints and eight cases were elevated to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG-7) for probable cause, while another two cases have been filed by CIDG-7.
According to Trovela, 12 verified complaints have been forwarded to the office of Año, and another 12 were referred to the regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for validation.
Three cases, however, were closed by the CIDG-7, as the complainants were no longer interested to pursue charges against the accused barangay officials.
During the first tranche of the SAP distribution that rolled out in April, the government tapped the barangays to hasten the distribution of the financial assistance to the poorest-of-the-poor households.
However, the distribution of the cash aid by barangay officials was mired by reports of anomalies and mismanagement, ranging from ineligible beneficiaries to inclusion of relatives or party affiliates in the SAP list to non-inclusion of qualified recipients.
The copious reports on questionable distribution of the government’s cash assistance prompted the DILG secretary to order the barangay chiefs to post the list of SAP beneficiaries in conspicuous areas in their barangay for transparency.
Reports of alleged anomalies committed by barangay officials, especially on payout cuts where a percentage of the cash aid amount is deducted, angered Pres. Rodrigo Duterte who offered a P30,000 reward to any individual who will provide information about a barangay official stealing money intended for the poor.
With lessons learned, the second tranche of the government’s emergency cash aid that will roll out in qualified areas soon will no longer involve the participation of the barangays, as the DSWD-7 reported that their agency will hire 50 special disbursing officers (SDOs) to conduct the payout in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA).
The hired SDOs will be accompanied by military personnel to provide security during the actual payout.
In areas not considered as GIDA, DSWD-7 will use the digital platforms so that the intended recipients can personally collect the money. (fcr/PIA7)