POLICE are investigating 183 barangay officials across the country over alleged irregularities in the distribution of the cash grants under the social amelioration program (SAP), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Monday, May 11.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said complaints against barangay officials poured in after President Rodrigo Duterte offered a P30,000 reward to those who can provide information about corruption surrounding the SAP distribution.
“Sa dami ng ating reklamong natanggap, 183 na ang iniimbestigahan ng ating kapulisan dahil may posibleng probable cause dito. Hindi titigil ang ating kapulisan sa pagdakip sa mga mandarambong na mga barangay official na siyang talagang virus ng lipunan. These are the kinds of arrests na kating-kati gawin ng ating PNP dahil talagang gigil din sila sa mga corrupt local officials,” he said.
Duterte made the offer following the arrest of Barangay Councilor Danilo Flores of Hagonoy, Bulacan after he was caught on video asking the SAP recipients to give back half of what they received.
Flores’ arrest was followed by the filing of charges against Barangay Captain Maria Luz Leal Ferrer of Barangay 8 in Isabela, Negros Occidental and Mae Fajardo, a municipal social worker, for allegedly manipulating the list of SAP beneficiaries.
They were charged with violation of Republic Act 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and violation of the Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Fajardo and Ferrer also face charges for falsification of public documents.
Aside from the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation has also been tapped to investigate reports of graft and corruption in the distribution of SAP financial assistance.
The DILG urged the public not to hesitate and immediately report to the police or DILG office any possible irregularities in SAP distribution in their areas.
Meanwhile, DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya noted the importance of a “professionalized barangay” especially during a crisis.
He said they are studying the imposition of educational qualifications for barangay officials, including treasurers and secretaries.
“Now is the time to professionalize the barangay," Malaya said.
"We expect a lot from them. Nakita mo naman sa Covid-19 (situation), lumabas yung tungkulin ng barangay, ngayon from quarantine to contact tracing," he added. (SunStar Philippines)