Typhoon Ruby victims sue Catbalogan mayor over shelter assistance
MANILA — A group representing people affected by typhoon Ruby in 2014 has filed a graft complaint against the mayor of Catbalogan City, Samar for allegedly shortchanging the victims of housing assistance.
In a five-page complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas, the People’s Surge Western Samar Chapter accused Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan of failing to abide by the memorandum of agreement on the release of P110.91-million emergency shelter assistance.
Also named respondents were City Social Welfare and Development Officer Nida Aroza and Barangay Lagundi Secretary Lita Solis.
The three were accused of violating Section 3 (e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. They also face an administrative case for grave misconduct.
According to the complaint, the city government reclassified totally damaged homes as only “partially damaged,” a week before the Emergency Shelter Assistance was distributed on Oct. 13, 2016.
Solis allegedly gathered the Disaster Assistance Family Access Cards (DAFACs) of the affected families and told them these would only be photocopied and returned later.
But through the recategorization, the families received only the P8,000 assistance for partially damaged homes instead of the full P16,000 assistance.
Employees allegedly “connected” with Aroza distributed the cash assistance at the Catbalogan City Hall, with the recipients being made to sign the payrolls and vouchers.
The downgrading of cash assistance “could not have been possible without the blessings and instructions of respondent Mayor Uy-Tan,” claimed the complainants led by chapter president Ma. Rechiel Laylay.
Additionally, the complaint claimed that the local government failed to release the entire amount for ESAs within the mandated three-month period. It said that a P2.18-million balance remained by the end of December 2016.
People’s Surge said it sought free access to the vouchers through a letter dated Feb. 28 this year. But, the March 6 reply-letter signed by Aroza and duly noted by Uy-Tan stated the requested documents have already been forwarded to the Commission on Audit.
Saying that access to the vouchers could have helped verify the proper cash releases, the complaint faulted the city officials for failing to maintain its records in violation of the MoA. SFM
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