134 barangay execs facing criminal raps for alleged SAP anomalies – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   May 26, 2020   •   271

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday reported that there are now 134 barangay officials who are facing criminal raps over the alleged anomalies in the distribution of cash aid under government’s social amelioration program (SAP).

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the development represents a 320% increase in the number of barangay executives who are facing complaints before the Prosecutor’s Office of the Department of Justice for their alleged offenses.

Last May 20, the DILG reported that 42 barangay officials were charged by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) in relation to the alleged SAP irregularities.

“Hindi ninyo matatakasan ang mga panlolokong ginawa ninyo sa pamimigay ng ayuda. Sinira ninyo ang tiwala ng gobyerno at ng inyong mga kabarangay kaya sa kalaunan, sa kulungan ang bagsak ninyo,” Año said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Año revealed that a total of 318 complainants went to the PNP-CIDG to report the alleged wrongdoings of their barangay officials during the SAP distribution.

The PNP-CIDG will file nine more cases in the next few days as it fast tracks the case build-up on 86 other cases, he added.

The DILG earlier said that “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.

Collecting “processing fees” and getting a cut from the SAP financial aid of beneficiaries also emerged as among the top complaints against some barangay officials.

DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya also said that politics was sometimes at play in the distribution of SAP in some areas where local executives allegedly deprived residents from receiving cash assistance because they are not among their political supporters.

“Ilang beses na naming inuulit. Hindi criteria ang pagiging kamag-anak o kakampi sa politika sa pamimigay ng SAP. Para ito sa mga kapus-palad ano man ang katayuan,” Malaya stressed.

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 said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento earlier directed all prosecutors in the country to set the preliminary investigations, as soon as possible, to monitor the progress of such cases which have taken on “a sinister and disgraceful character, considering that money intended for poor hungry people is unlawfully taken away from them.”

“We are grateful to the DOJ and the Prosecutor General for prioritizing these cases. We need to send a strong message to corrupt barangay officials that their criminal activities will not be tolerated,” the DILG said.

Gov’t to allow motorcycle back-riding for married, cohabiting couples starting July 10

Marje Pelayo   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has allowed motorcycle back-riding for married and cohabiting couples beginning Friday (July 10) under certain conditions.

According to DILG Spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, a motorcycle rider must provide a protective shield in between him and his back ride and both must wear respective helmets and facemask.

“Kailangan po ito for safety purposes at for convenience na rin po. So instead na nakayakap tayo doon sa driver, dito na po tayo hahawak [This (shield) is for safety purposes and for convenience as well. Instead of directly embracing the driver, we will hold on to this],” Malaya explained as he demonstrated how to use the protective shield.

“So kailangan din solid din ito at naka-bolt o welded doon sa motor para maging safe for both individuals utilizing the motorcycle. [This (shield) must also be solid and bolted or welded on the motorcycle to be safe for both individuals utilizing the motorcycle],” he added.

Malaya said the DILG will release an official design of protective shield which shall be used as pattern for motorcycle riders.

“Ang importante lang po ay more or less ay sumunod tayo doon sa design na inaprubahan at ito po ay made of solid materials [What’s important is that we adhere to the approved design and it should be made of solid materials],” Malaya said.

Both riders must have a valid ID and a legal document that proves their relationship as a couple which may be presented at checkpoints.

“Pwede pong dalhin nila yung kanilang marriage certificate o kaya any government-issued ID na nakalagay doon sa likod na relationship at name ng mister o misis at address [They may bring their marriage certificate or any government-issued ID that bears at the back their relationship, the name of spouse and their address],” Malaya said.

However, Malaya clarifies that non-related back riders are still not allowed and violators will be apprehended and issued with citation tickets. MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Passengers without confirmed flights won’t be allowed at airports, DILG says

Robie de Guzman   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday reiterated its call on passengers not to go to the airports as they will not be allowed to go in if their flights and tickets are not confirmed.

In a statement, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said strict health protocols are being implemented in airports amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and operations of airlines and other transportation companies are bound by these rules.

With the limited flights currently allowed to operate, Malaya stressed that “going to the airport without a confirmed flight or ticket is a waste of energy and time and will just lead to frustration.”

He advised passengers to contact the airlines to ensure that their flights are confirmed to avoid inconvenience.

He also reminded passengers that all tickets purchased prior to the pandemic have already been cancelled by the airlines and will need to be rebooked based on the new schedule of flights approved by airport authorities.

“Patuloy po ang paalala natin sa ating mga kababayan na huwag pong magpunta sa mga airport or seaports kung wala po tayong confirmed na flight,” he said.

“Mangyari lamang po na makipag-ugnayan kayo sa inyong airline kung confirmed ang inyong flight. Mapapagod lang po kayo sa biyahe at masasayang ang pera ninyo at mauuwi lang po ito sa wala,” he added.

Malaya also said that walk-in customers will not be able to purchase tickets at the airports as all flights are regulated in coordination with the airline companies.

“Even if you were issued a ticket by the airline, you will have to confirm that prior to going to the airport because there may have been some changes in flight schedules. Moreover, all tickets issued prior to the pandemic are canceled and will not be honored by airport authorities,” he said.

The Department of Transportation, through the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), earlier released an advisory requiring all airlines to secure accurate information, especially the contact details of all passengers, even those who purchased tickets from travel agencies, to ensure that they will be properly notified by the airlines if flights are canceled. Moreover, the said information may also be helpful in future contact tracing purposes.

The CAB also directed all airlines “to make appropriate public announcements advising individuals who have purchased tickets prior to the COVID-19 crisis that their flights are canceled and that they need to rebook accordingly.”

So far, only 29 airports nationwide are open for operation and even in airports allowed to operate, there are limited flight schedules upon the request of Local Government Units, the DILG said.

DILG tells LGUs to digitize transactions amid COVID-19 pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   July 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday urged local government units (LGUs) to move towards digitized transactions to reduce contact and impede further transmission of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the country continues to fight the pandemic.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año called on LGUs to fast-track the issuance of permits and clearances in setting up crucial infrastructure needed for digital connectivity across the country including the construction of cell sites to improve internet connectivity.

“The millions working from home, the students looking forward to on-line learning, and the workers who depend on the digital economy are all expecting government to address the gaps in our internet infrastructure,” Año said.

“We therefore encourage all LGUs to beef up their digital platforms in their communities as we move towards the new normal,” he added.

He also said that going digital is the “call of the time,” but more than technological advancement, digitized government and consumer transactions are precautionary measures that can contribute immensely to impeding virus transmission.

In the same statement, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that digital platforms can be an important partner of LGUs in ensuring the health and safety of the public while promoting economic growth. 

“You have to strike a balance. We must begin the economic recovery even as we fight COVID,” he said.

Malaya also noted that LGUs have a key role in bolstering the digital platform, not just in government services but also in building business and consumer confidence during these trying times.

He likewise said that LGUs must encourage businesses to veer towards online money transfer instead of physical payment as part of the new normal.

“Many businesses have now been engaging the financial services provided by major payment gateways such as Smart Padala, Gcash, PayMaya, Google, and Click2Pay that have drastically changed our experience in making online payments – from the conventional “pasaload” to a more sophisticated process of online payment,” he said.

Malaya also said that cashless payments have also helped in the fast distribution of the second batch of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) subsidy.

The government likewise advocates the use of online payment for taxes and mandatory social contributions, such as GSIS, BIR, SSS, PagIBIG, and PhilHealth, he added.

“Despite some security issues that the government assures can be countered, online payment is also seen to reduce red tape and cost of doing business as all government agencies, through the Ease of Doing Business Act, are mandated to automate their processes including payment of taxes, fees, and charges,” he said.

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