Barangay officials in W. Visayas accused of cash aid anomalies

Rappler.com
Two barangay chairmen and other government employees are accused of approving unqualified beneficiaries

CASH. A beneficiary receives P8,000 cash aid from the government's Emergency Subsidy Program on the eve of the payout deadline, May 6, 2020. Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler


MANILA, Philippines – Barangay officials and other government employees from Western Visayas are accused of irregularities in their distribution of cash aid under the government’s emergency subsidy program (ESP) for the coronavirus pandemic. 

On Wednesday, July 8, the chairman, kagawad, and 4 employees of Brgy. Don Salvador Benedicto, Pontevedra, Negros Occidental were accused by their province’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of violating RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act) and RA 11469 (Bayanihan to Heal as One Act). 

The CIDG discovered that some beneficiaries did not fit the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) criteria for receiving the aid. The 6 had allegedly prioritized relatives and close affiliates in the list of beneficiaries. 

The accused barangay officials are chairman Willy Fernandez Palermo, kagawad Edgar Bandon Berdan, treasurer Jinky Pobresa, health worker Virginia Zamora, nutrition scholar Jonalyn Samulde, and child development worker Mary Grace Eslabon.

On Thursday, July 9, the chairman of Brgy. Salvacion, Belison, Antique and an employee of the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) faced complaints from the Iloilo CIDG for the same violations – they approved beneficiaries who were not qualified.  

The accused are chairman Rogelio Vista and Agnes Wahing. 

All 8 respondents also face complaints for violating RA 6713 (Code of Ethical Standard of Public Official), which will be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman upon resumption of its services.

Their actions mean that some poor families had been deprived of the much-needed aid. (READ: ‘Walang-wala na’: Poor Filipinos fear death from hunger more than coronavirus)

Malacañang’s 14th report to Congress on the government’s coronavirus response revealed that as of June 29, almost 300,000 families have yet to receive their promised cash aid for April. 

The DSWD has since promised that there will be no more anomalies committed in the next wave of aid, saying the second tranche will no longer pass through local government units, and will instead involve direct transfer from the agency to the Land Bank of the Philippines, which would then transfer the funds to the beneficiaries’ preferred financial service providers (FSPs). – Rappler.com