NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.
Three barangay captains were issued with six-month preventive suspension for alleged anomalies in the distribution of the government’s social amelioration program (SAP) for poor families affected by the pandemic.
Ordered suspended by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) were Brgy Captains Rodolfo Simbajon ofGuio-ang, Guindulman town; Mario Lamalinao of Calituban, Talibon town and Eugene Zamora of Tagbilaran City.
They were among the 89 barangay captains in the country suspended in connection with the SAP distribution.
Zamora was included in the list even as an earlier decision by the Office of the City Prosecutor cleared him of the complaint filed against him and two others.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año directed the respective mayors of the concerned barangays to immediately implement the suspension order, which will serve as a stern warning that any corruption will not be tolerated.
There were 12 suspended barangay chiefs in Region 1, 11 in Metro Manila, 10 others in Region 2, nine in Regions 5 and 7 while eight officials were suspended in Region 6 and seven others in Region 8.
Various cases were earlier filed by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit following the instruction of the DILG.
Under the SAP, some 18 million households were set to get P5,000 to P8,000 in amelioration packages in the first tranche.
The ombudsman’s suspension order, dated Sept. 2, ordered the six-month suspension of the officials since their continued stay in office might prejudice the cases filed against them.
The order said that evidence presented in the complaint showed the strong guilt of the accused for the charges of Serious Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct, Abuse of Authority and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.
These charges could warrant their eventual removal from service.
Some barangays are also reportedly asking for processing fees while others are dividing the intended cash aid to more families in their areas.
DILG spokesman Jonathan Malaya said this mass suspension is the latest development in the DILG’s drive to weed out corruption in the government’s emergency subsidy program.
Criminal charges have been filed against a total of 447 individuals for violations of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), RA 11469 (Bayanihan Act I) and RA 6713 (Code of Conduct of Government Officials and Employees), among other laws.
Of this number, 221 are elected local and barangay officials, 104 are appointed barangay officials and 132 are their civilian co-conspirators. (with reports from Philippine Star)