Moreno vows to sue barangay officials caught messing with COVID-19 aid
MANILA, Philippines – Barangay officials involved in anomalies in the distribution of the COVID-19 aid would be penalized and charged with graft and other cases, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said on Monday.
Moreno said that despite the numerous forms of assistance intended for low-income families, both from the local and national government — from the rice subsidies to monetary grants — some families in the city have yet to receive any aid.
“Sa dami po ng ipinamigay, hindi po sa pagbubuhat ng bangko, pinamigay ng Lungsod, may nababalitaan pa rin po tayong mga hindi nila binigyan bagama’t meron silang listahang ibinigay,” Moreno said in a briefing.
[Even if the city government has already distributed a lot, not to brag about it, but we still receive reports that some people have yet to receive anything even if they were in the list of beneficiaries.]
“Ngayon po, mas mahigpit po, sila po ay makakasuhan ng graft and corruption, abuse of authority, at lahat ng existing na batas sa pagsuway nila sa tagubilin ng pamahalaan o pang-aabuso, o abuse of discretion,” he added.
[Now, we will be more strict. They will be charged with graft and corruption, abuse of authority, and violations of all existing laws that will be applicable if they disobey the government’s orders or if there is an abuse of discretion.]
Several issues about the SAP distribution have sprouted before the deadline of the social aid distribution, with barangay officials reportedly prioritizing relatives and friends while some eligible beneficiaries were removed from the list.
The SAP was 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, leaving people who rely on daily earnings and those whose jobs cannot adjust to a work-from-home scheme without any income.
As of May 1, the DSWD has distributed P53.8 billion of the SAP funds to 10.13 million families —of whom 3.73 million are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), 6.35 million are nonbeneficiaries of 4Ps, and 40,418 are public vehicle drivers.
In his late-night address on Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte reminded local executives to scrutinize people entrusted with the distribution of aid, citing a case in Hagonoy where a barangay official told beneficiaries that only P3,000 would be given to them, while the other P3,500 would be given to other people.
“Mayors, kindly, kindly look into the people that you have commissioned to do the distribution of money — like this Barangay Councilor Danilo Flores of Agustin, Hagonoy, Bulacan,” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino.
Moreno assured, however, that there were only a few of these crooked barangay officials and they don’t represent the majority of the barangays in Manila.
Still, he urged people to monitor possible incidents of abuse and to never forget these actions from the erring officers.
“Sana mga kababayan, huwag kayong lilimot na pagbayarin sila sa mata ng batas. Darating uli sila sa inyo pagdating ng araw, mamimigay yan ng 5 kilong bigas o limang daang piso para sa kanilang halalan. Sana huwag niyong kalimutan ang dinanas ninyo, ang dinanas nating hirap ngayong COVID-19,” the mayor said.
[I hope you would not forget to hold them accountable. They will come back someday, distributing five kilograms of rice or P500 bills during the election season. I hope you don’t forget what you went through, the difficulties you experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.]
“Pero ako naman ay po ay taos-pusong nagpapasalamat, kung may iilang bulok, napakarami namang pong matitino. Bagay na kung matino naman ang inyong Barangay Chairman, ako naman ang naghihikayat sa inyo, pasalamatan niyo rin sila sa effort na ginagawa nila,” he added.
[But I am also grateful that, although there are some rotten eggs, there are still a lot of officials who perform well. If your barangay chairman is a good person, I would also encourage you to thank them for their efforts.]
As of now, Manila and the rest of the National Capital Region and some areas in Central and Southern Luzon remain under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to high infection rates.
The SAP was formed under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which was passed to allow the government to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has 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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