DSWD seeks probe of ESA anomalies
ILOILO CITY—Officials of a town in Iloilo province hit by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) face investigation for alleged irregularities in the distribution of shelter funds for Yolanda survivors ranging from beneficiaries of the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) program being shortchanged by P500 each to lists of beneficiaries being altered to court political support.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is asking the Commission on Audit (COA) to investigate the allegations against officials of San Dionisio town in Iloilo province, one of the areas hardest hit by Yolanda in November 2013.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman said at least 89 complaints against officials of the town and the town’s villages had been filed at the Ombudsman in Western Visayas.
On Wednesday, Soliman said the officials would face a “fraud audit.”
Among the reports of irregularity that Soliman wants to be investigated are claims that P500 are being deducted from the money that each beneficiary receives purportedly for snacks of village watchmen and policemen who provided security during the distribution of cash grants.
Soliman also cited a report of the DSWD Western Visayas office that department workers who were monitoring the distribution of the cash grants were told to leave by municipal officials.
Msgr. Meliton Oso, a member of the technical working group of an inter-agency monitoring program for the shelter funds, said he also wants to investigate allegations that the list of beneficiaries prepared by the municipal social welfare and development office was disregarded and replaced by a list of the town mayor, Peter Paul Lopez.
But Mayor Lopez denied any irregularity in the distribution of the cash grants—P30,000 for families who lost their houses and P10,000 for those with damaged ones.
“My role is purely ministerial and it is the DSWD which evaluates the list of beneficiaries recommended by the barangay captains,” Lopez said in a phone interview.
“They can come here anytime and investigate. I am 110 percent sure that our distribution of the (shelter assistance) followed DSWD, COA and other government guidelines,” he said.
Lopez said he barred several DSWD workers from the distribution area because they failed to obtain a “security” pass.
Soliman said out of 299 complaints filed in Western Visayas, 140 cases had been either resolved or considered closed while 89 are now at the Ombudsman.
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