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437 gov't workers, 'co-conspirators' charged over coronavirus aid

At least 437 individuals are facing criminal charges for alleged anomalies in the government's emergency subsidy program during the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Sunday, August 23. 

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement that charges were filed against 203 elected public officials, 102 barangay and city personnel, and 132 civilian "co-conspirators."

Sobrang nakakadismaya na nagawa pa nilang mangurakot sa ayudang nakalaan para sa sa ating mga kababayan na lubhang apektado ng pandemya (It is disappointing they saw it fit to pocket the financial assistance for our countrymen affected by the pandemic),” he said.

Majority of the cases are in violations of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, RA No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, and RA No. 11332 or the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases, among others.

The DILG said the Philippine National Police (PNP) also investigated 336 cases, with 240 already filed before prosecutors.

The PNP is also investigating 626 more officials.

The government’s emergency subsidy program was created under the now-expired Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. It promised promised assistance of P5,000 to P8,000 ($102 to $164) to millions of poor families.

It was meant to help families affected by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, especially the poorest communities. Distribution of the cash assistance, however, was marred by discrepancies and allegations of anomalies.

Año said he is confident there will be lesser anomalies in the latest tranche since distribution was done mostly through electronic means. – Rappler.com