89 village chiefs suspended over aid anomalies
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has suspended 89 village chiefs nationwide over irregularities in the implementation of the first tranche of the social amelioration program, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Saturday.
The said program, created under the transitory and now-expired Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, was introduced amid the lockdown on many parts of the country at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide emergency cash assistance to 18 million Filipinos who lost their livelihoods because of the lockdown.
The village chiefs were suspended for six months after the DILG filed complaints against them before the Ombudsman.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año ordered local officials “to immediately implement the [Ombudsman’s] order.”
“May this suspension serve as a warning to other local officials. Corruption has no place in our government especially in this time of pandemic,” he said in a statement, citing the Ombudsman’s order dated Sept. 2.
Quoting the order, the DILG said “the evidence on record shows that the guilt of these punong barangays (village chiefs) is strong and the charges against them involve Serious Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct, Abuse of Authority and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service which may warrant removal from the service.”
Allowing these officials to stay in office may prejudice the case filed against them, the Ombudsman said. “[Thus] placing them under preventive suspension for a period of six months pursuant to Republic Act No. 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989) is proper under the premises.”
According to the DILG, many of the suspended village chiefs were from Region I, Region II and the National Capital Region. The Cordillera Administrative Region and Caraga Region had the least number of those suspended.
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