Quezon City gov’t probes local execs involved in SAP distribution anomaly

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2020   •   654

MANILA, Philippines – The government of Quezon City said it has launched an investigation against certain barangay officials over their involvement in the alleged irregularities in the distribution of cash assistance under the national government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

In a statement issued Sunday, the city government said that Mayor Joy Belmonte ordered the probe after receiving numerous complaints against barangay officials regarding SAP payout.

“Pursuant to the directive of Mayor Joy Belmonte, the Quezon City Government has commenced a full-blown investigation against certain barangay officials and employees who have allegedly abused their power or neglected their duties in the implementation of the DSWD Social Amelioration Program or SAP,” it said.

The complaints, according to the city government, range from the illegal replication of SAP forms, the deprivation of SAP forms to qualified beneficiaries in favor of preferred but unqualified recipients or relatives, the illegal deduction of “processing fees,” “donations,” and “membership dues” from cash aid, and the redistribution of cash aid to several beneficiaries after the scheduled payout.

The city government said its legal department will issue show-cause orders against the concerned barangay officials and employees.

If found liable, these barangay officials may face charges for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Falsification, Fraud Against the Public Treasury, Malversation and Robbery, and administrative cases.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier ordered the Philippine National Police to investigate and arrest local officials who are allegedly pocketing cash assistance intended for low-income households heavily affected by the community quarantine enforced to curb the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Quezon City mayor cancels city hall parties, to donate funds

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

Parties for all offices under the Quezon City government during the holidays will no longer be held this year amid the continuing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said Tuesday.

A statement released on Tuesday said Belmonte has issued a memorandum directing all offices under the city hall to cancel parties scheduled in December and instead ordered them to donate the funds to underprivileged groups.

“The money that would have been spent on office Christmas parties would do more good as donations to the underprivileged during this extraordinarily difficult time in our nation’s history,” Belmonte said in a statement.

The local chief executive stressed that “it would be inappropriate for offices of the city government to hold customary Christmas parties while many of its citizens are experiencing hardships due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.”

Instead of holding parties, she urged city hall employees to adopt an underprivileged sector— such as the urban poor, displaced workers, jeepney drivers, street vendors, indigent children, and poor senior citizens— and to modestly celebrate the season in their homes.

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Batanes records first COVID-19 case

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The province of Batanes on Tuesday said it has recorded its first case of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since the start of the pandemic early this year.

According to Batanes Governor Marilou Cayco, the province reported its first COVID-19 case after a 29-year old resident who returned on Sept. 22 tested positive for the virus.

He has a travel history in Santa Rosa, Laguna. He returned to the province on board a Philippine Air Force plane with 18 others.

Cayco said the patient is asymptomatic and currently under isolation and monitoring of the provincial COVID-19 task force.

She added that all 18 individuals who had close contact with the patient have been subjected to swab test and are now strictly being monitored.

Batanes is currently under a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) but the local government will recommend to place the province under a two-week GCQ to curb the spread of coronavirus disease.

Cayco said outpost checkpoints will also be set up in all municipalities to monitor and limit the movement of people.

Airport operations and commercial flights to and from the province will also be suspended.

“Medivac lang ang pwedeng pumunta dito in some emergency cases. Pero yung commercial flights pina-stop muna namin,” she said.

The local government reminds residents to follow health protocols such as the wearing of face masks and face shields and observe physical distancing. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dan Gersalia)

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DOH allows private companies to implement lockdown

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 29, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) will allow private companies to implement lockdown in their offices or health care facilities to prevent coronavirus disease (COVID-19) exposure.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said aside from the minimum health protocols, private companies should also consider the mental health of their employees if they will implement a lockdown.

For example may mga ibang ospital (For example, there are hospitals) that would rather have their employees stay with them, they have their dormitory. Wala munang uuwi dito muna kasi kapag umuwi kayo sa community you go back at nadadala niyo ang mga impeksyon dito (No one will go home yet because, once you go home to your community and you come back, you might bring the infection here), she said.

According to the Health Department, the duration of the lockdown will depend on the agreement between the company and its employees. She also reminded employees that they can also decline being put into lockdown.

Hindi naman dapat pumayag din ang isang employee kung iyan ay labag sa kaniya. Mayroon naman silang ganoong karapatan kailangan lang po na naipapaliwang ng maayos (Employees don’t need to agree if they don’t want to. They have the right to do so. Things must be explained properly),Vergeire added.

The health official also reminded private companies to make sure that their employees understand the reason behind the lockdown, taking into account the difficulty of being away from their families especially during the pandemic.

Vergeire also said employees should also be able to talk to experts with regards to their mental health.

“It is okay not to be okay especially at this time during our situation in the pandemic. Okay lang po iyan lahat tayo nakakaramdam ng ganiyan (That’s okay, we all feel that). We just have to have that coping mechanism,” she said. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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