Eighty-nine barangay chairpersons have been suspended for six months owing to anomalies in the distribution of the first tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Saturday.
Most of the suspended barangay chairpersons are in Region I, National Capital Region and Region II. The Office of the Ombudsman suspended the village chiefs after the DILG filed complaints against them, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.
Cordillera Administrative Region and Caraga have the least number of suspended punong barangays, while Region XII has no suspended barangay chairperson.
Año directed the mayors of the cities and municipalities where the barangay leaders served to implement the suspension upon receiving the order from the Ombudsman and directed DILG regional and field officers to ensure the mass suspension is implemented in an orderly manner.
Año thanked Ombudsman Samuel Martires for acting on the DILG’s complaints immediately, as “this will deliver the message that the department will not tolerate any wrongdoing.”
“The evidence on record shows that the guilt of these punong barangays is strong and the charges against them involve Serious Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct, Abuse of Authority and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service which may warrant removal from the service,” the Ombudsman’s order dated September 2 read.
It added that having the punong barangays stay in office may prejudice the cases they are facing “[so] placing them under preventive suspension for a period of six months pursuant to Republic Act No. 6770 is proper under the premises.”
The mass suspension is the first in the country and is the latest in the moves undertaken by the department to address corruption in the implementation of the SAP, which gives cash subsidy to qualified beneficiaries to help them cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SAP was to be given in two tranches, DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said.
Malaya said the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, under orders from the DILG, has filed criminal cases against 447 individuals for violating Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), RA 11469 (Bayanihan Act I), and RA 6713 (Code of Conduct of Government Officials and Employees), among others, for anomalies in the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program.
Of the 447 facing criminal raps, 211 are elected local and barangay officials, 104 are appointed barangay officials, and 132 are alleged civilian co-conspirators.
The cases are now with City and Provincial Prosecutors, the DILG said.