42 barangay execs facing raps over SAP anomalies – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   May 21, 2020   •   811

MANILA, Philippines – There are now 42 barangay officials who are facing criminal complaints over the alleged irregularities in the distribution of government’s cash subsidy under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Thursday.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the figure is a huge jump from the 23 officials who were charged for SAP pay-out anomalies on May 17.

The complaints against these barangay officials were lodged by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) before the Prosecutor’s Office of the Department of Justice.

“Seryosohan po ito. Nalalapit na ang paghuhukom para sa mga tiwaling opisyales ng mga barangay. Hindi po titigil ang ating kapulisan hanggat hindi mapapanagot sa batas ang mga kagaya nila,” he said.

Año said “splitting” is among the top complaints leveled against erring barangay officials, in which they allegedly divide the SAP cash aid of one family to benefit other families.

“Malinaw ang batas at ang polisiya ng DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) na ang SAP cash aid ay para lamang sa pamilya ng nakalistang SAP beneficiary. Sapat lamang iyon para sa kanila at mahigpit na pinagbabawal ang paghahati-hati nito,” he said.

Aside from splitting, getting a cut from the SAP financial aid of beneficiaries also emerged as among the top complaints against some barangay officials.

“Sa panahon ng krisis, naisipan pa ng mga barangay officials na ito na kumuha ng commission o tara mula sa SAP beneficiaries. That is corruption at its finest. Hindi natin ito palalampasin,” said Año.

Cases for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act were filed by the PNP-CIDG against these barangay officials, the DILG chief said.

Año earlier ordered the PNP-CIDG to conduct a probe and case build-up against barangay officials. It also sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the complaints.

Año recently transferred the investigation of graft and corrupt practices against Barangay Officials from the DILG field offices to the PNP-CIDG to expedite the investigation and the filing of criminal charges.

On the other hand, barangay officials facing complaints that are administrative in nature will still be issued show-cause orders by the DILG and investigated by DILG field units for filing in the Office of the Ombudsman.

According to DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, the PNP-CIDG has processed complaints from a total of 374 complainants against some 155 suspects from April 1 to May 19, 2020.

He said majority of these suspects are barangay chairpersons and their associates.

There are also numerous complaints received against barangay councilors, barangay secretary or treasurer, municipal councilor, Barangay Health Workers (BHW), Purok Leaders/Home Owners Association (HOA) Presidents, Liaison Officer, DSWD Social Worker, SK Chairman, and Day Care Teacher.

Over 15,000 PDLs released from jail amid COVID-19 pandemic – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – More than 15,000 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) have been released from jail facilities as part of the government’s decongestion program in light of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the DILG said that from March 17 to June 22, a total of 15,322 PDLs were released from jail facilities supervised by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Of this number, 5,910 were from the National Capital Region; 1,557 from CALABARZON; 1,487 from Central Visayas; 1,041 from Central Luzon; 897 from Zamboanga Peninsula; 762 from Northern Mindanao; and the rest are from other regions.

Around 1,312 of these PDLs were released because of the new Supreme Court guidelines issued to decongest the jails.

Majority of these released inmates are elderly and those who committed light or bailable offenses, the DILG said.

“All of these PDLs were released by authority of the courts with some released in accordance with new guidelines issued by the Supreme Court because of the pandemic,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said.

“Ang paglaya ng libo-libong PDLs ay patunay na hindi sila nakakaligtaan at hindi pinapabayaan. Patunay rin itong gumagana ang justice system sa bansa kahit pa man may pandemya,” he added.

Año issued the statement in response to the claim of leftist groups that the government is not doing enough to decongest the jails.

The DILG chief also said that the BJMP established COVID-19 isolation centers with medical staff in the regions despite budgetary and personnel limitations. These isolation facilities were put up with the support from the Department of Health, local government units.

Six Ligtas COVID Centers with 918-bed capacity are established in strategic areas, particularly in Quezon City, San Fernando City, Cebu City, Mandaue City, Pagbilao in Quezon province, and Zamboanga City, Año said.

He added that the bureau also intensified its triaging process, provision of more focused medical care to patients, conduct of daily disinfection of jails, targeted and expanded testing, and massive health education campaigns inside jails.

“These are on top of the usual precautionary measures such as wearing of face mask, thermal scanning, use of foot baths, hand washing, and maintaining good hygiene,” he said.

“Kahit pa maraming responsibilidad ang ipinagkakatiwala sa DILG ngayong COVID-19 crisis ay hindi isinasantabi ng Kagawaran at ng BJMP ang PDLs. Tinitiyak namin ang kapakanan at kaligtasan nila,” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic also affected the country’s jails, with a total of 783 confirmed infections among PDLs and 135 among BJMP personnel.

As of Thursday, July 2, 549 PDLs and 90 bureau personnel have recovered from the viral respiratory disease, Año said.

“Tinututukan po namin ang sitwasyon sa mga BJMP jail sa buong bansa at hindi namin pinapabayaan ang mga COVID-19 positive cases. Sa katunayan, marami na ang gumaling at hindi kami bibitaw hanggang bawat isa sa kanila ay maka-recover na,” he said.

The BJMP also expanded the electronic dalaw (e-Dalaw) program in relation to the temporary suspension of visitation in all jail facilities amid the public health crisis.


Duterte to meet with AFP, PNP commanders following Jolo incident

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to fly to Mindanao to meet with top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the wake of the killing of four soldiers by policemen in Jolo, Sulu last Monday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Thursday.

Año, however, did not disclose the date and place of the president’s upcoming meeting with police and military commanders.

The Interior Secretary, who supervises the PNP, also said that Duterte may possibly talk to nine policemen involved in the shooting of soldiers.

“The president is going to the south to talk to our PNP and AFP commanders, sabi ko nga kung may time pa siya ay kakausapin niya yung mga suspek,” Año said.

Malacañang said the president was saddened by the incident between the police and military officers.

He has also ordered for the National Bureau of Investigation to expedite the release of its probe findings.

The Palace also denied that the incident is the result of the alleged state-sponsored extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration as claimed by former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

“Hindi po natin kinukunsinte ang patayan kaya nga po masinsinang imbestigasyon ang ginagawa natin dito sa pagpatay sa 4 na sundalo sa hukbong sandatahan,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Año echoed Roque’s statement as he assured that those responsible for the Jolo incident will be held accountable.

“Extrajudicial killing is not the policy of this government and the Sulu incident, we will exact justice and make sure those responsible shall be accountable, umasa kayo diyan. Ako mismo ang personal na nag-follow up ng kaso,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DILG to issue show cause order vs. barangay execs over Cebu City street procession

Robie de Guzman   •   June 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday said it will issue a show cause order against barangay officials who are allegedly involved in the conduct of a street dance and procession in Barangay Basak San Nicolas in Cebu City despite the enforcement of enhanced community quarantine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said he also directed the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) to investigate and file charges against the organizers of the said event.

“We will not tolerate any violation of our quarantine protocols. Those responsible will be made to account. Hindi din naman tayo tumitigil sa pagpapaalala na napakalaki ng risk of transmission ng COVID-19 sa mass gathering and yet we see these kinds of activities and what makes it worse ay ang barangay na ito ay isang COVID-19 hot spot,” Año said.

“We will definitely get to the bottom of this. We have issued a show cause order against the officials who are involved in this blatant violation of the ECQ currently being implemented in Cebu City,” he added.

Año expressed his disappointment and frustration over the incident because the organizers still pushed for the event even if the said barangay is among the COVID-19 hotspots in the city.

Reports reaching the DILG stated that hundreds of people flocked to the street of Sitio Alumnos in Barangay Basak last June 27 to participate in a street dance and procession, which is in violation of the rules prohibiting mass gathering during community quarantine.

“We need people to practice discipline. They should know better dahil ang Cebu City ang may pinakamaraming kaso, dapat sila ang mas maingat,” the DILG chief said.

“We have nothing against the expression of devotion but in a time of crisis, kailangan mag-isip din naman tayo. Sa ganitong mga pagsuway mas maraming buhay tayong nilalagay sa kapahamakan. Disiplina Muna!” he added.

Barangay Basak San Nicolas is one of the 12 barangays in Cebu City placed under strict lockdown due to the high number of recorded COVID-19 cases based on the report of the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Other barangays under lockdown include Sambag Dos; Kamputhaw; Sambag Uno; Mabolo; Guadalupe; Lahug; Duljo; Tinago; Tisa; Ermita; and Tejero.

According to the Department of Health, Cebu City has a total of 4,562 total cases as of June 28, 2020; of which 3,892 are active cases, 592 have recovered, and 78 died.

Año said that the DILG is expecting to hear the explanation of the involved local leaders on why no criminal and administrative cases should be filed against them.

The DILG chief also confirmed that a separate investigation on 21 barangay officials and individuals is also being conducted by the PNP-CIDG.

In a Facebook post, officials of the said barangay denied any involvement in the alleged mass gathering, saying that they did not authorize the conduct of the street dance and Sinulog procession but why they did not use their legal authority to stop the event from happening was not sufficiently explained.

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