POLICE have filed criminal charges against a barangay chairperson and a social welfare officer in Isabela town in Negros Occidental over irregularities in the distribution of the social amelioration program (SAP) cash assistance.
Barangay Captain Maria Luz Leal Ferrer of Barangay 8 and Isabela Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Mae Fajardo were each charged with falsification of document by a public officer before the Bacolod Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
Ferrer was also charged with violation of anti-graft and corrupt practices.
They were accused of manipulating the official list of SAP recipients, according to Western Visayas Police Director Brigadier General Rene Pamuspusan.
Charges for falsification of public document by a private individual have also been filed against Wizza Leal and Emmanuel T Orsolon also of Barangay 8, Isabela.
Pamuspusan said the conduct of investigation and case build up against the two stemmed from a text complaint that Ferrer released cash assistance from SAP to her 13-year-old grandchild and her niece, who is a “well-off business owner” and should be exempted from the program.
The complainant also alleged that the barangay executive was biased in selecting the beneficiaries in her locality.
“After a thorough investigation conducted by the local police on the list of beneficiaries and on the testimonies of credible witnesses, a probable cause was established that there was indeed irregularity on the part of the barangay executive and the MSWD officer,” said Pamuspusan.
Pamuspusan said he has ordered all provincial and city directors in Western Visayas to establish hotlines and complaint centers to receive complaints about irregularities in the distribution of SAP.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government earlier ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to investigate local government officials involved in the mishandling of SAP funds.
President Rodrigo Duterte has offered a P30,000 reward for every person who could give information about corrupt officials committing irregularities in the distribution of the cash assistance.
Under the SAP, 18 million families are supposed to receive P5,000 to P8,000 cash assistance from the government to help provide their basic needs during the lockdown due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) epidemic in the country. (SunStar Philippines)