Duterte asks local execs: Check on people assigned to give aid to avoid corruption
MANILA, Philippines – Local government officials should scrutinize people in charge of distributing the COVID-19 cash aid to avoid corruption, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday.
Duterte said most of the problems and corruption that came with the distribution of aid under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) occurred at the barangay level, when local chief executives seek the help of the barangay officials.
The President said this before mentioning a barangay councilor in Hagonoy, Bulacan, whom he ordered arrested for collecting half of the cash grants that should have been distributed to the people.
“Mayors, kindly, kindly look into the people that you have commissioned to do the distributions of money — like this Barangay Councilor Danilo Flores of Agustin, Hagonoy, Bulacan,” Duterte said in his late-night briefing.
“Ang p*t*ng i** mo. Nakuha ka pa ng television […] na hinihingi mo, mahirap na ng. Ikaw may trabaho ka, kukunin mo pa ‘yong pera ng mahirap,” he said, addressing Flores.
[You son of a bitch. You were caught on television asking for it. You have a job, and yet you’re getting money for the poor.]
Several corruption allegations surrounding the SAP — from people being removed from the list of beneficiaries to barangay officials prioritizing relatives and close friends — have popped up before the supposed deadline for the social aid.
As of May 1, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has already distributed P53.8 billion to 10.13 million families who are beneficiaries of the SAP.
Of the households who received aid, 3.73 million are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), 6.35 million are non-4Ps beneficiaries, and 40,418 are public vehicle drivers.
The SAP is intended for households affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over Luzon and other areas, which lasted until April 30.
Due to the ECQ, work except for those in essential frontline services was suspended. This has left people who rely on daily earnings and whose jobs cannot adjust to a work-from-home scheme without any income through the lockdown.
According to Duterte, he was aware of the problems that come up with leaving the SAP disbursement to local government units (LGUs), as it would be more prone to corruption. However, he admitted that the national government does not have the manpower to make quick distributions, without tapping the help of LGUs.
Reports on Sunday said that Flores was caught on video saying that the SAP beneficiaries would only receive P3,000, while the rest of the P3,500 aid would be given to the town mayor, to be given to those who were not on the SAP list.
Hagonoy Mayor Raulito Manlapaz dismissed Flores’s denial of any involvement in the alleged irregularity in the cash aid distribution.
To date, some areas remain under the ECQ due to high infection rates, like Metro Manila and parts of Central Luzon and Calabarzon.
Low-income families under the ECQ will still receive aid, while those under a general community quarantine will cease to benefit from the SAP.
The SAP is part of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, to allow a quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far affected 9,485 patients in the Philippines, of whom 623 have died and 1,315 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 3.51 million individuals are confirmed to have COVID-19, while at least 247,565 have died from the disease and over 1.12 million have recovered from it.
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