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DOJ to focus on complaints vs barangay execs over cash aid distribution

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DOJ to focus on complaints vs barangay execs over cash aid distribution
In this photo take May 12, 2020, residents of Brgy. Payatas in Quezon City line up for cash aid of government through Social Amelioration Program.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Criminal complaints against barangay officials over anomalies in distribution of government cash aid during COVID-19 crisis will be prioritized at the Department of Justice due to their “sinister” character, Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

Earlier this week, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group have filed complaints of graft and of violation of the Bayanihan law against 23 barangay officials over the distribution of the social amelioration program—a large-scale government subsidy program.

Guevarra told reporters in a message that the investigations into these complaints would be prioritized "because these cases take on a sinister and disgraceful character."

He pointed out that the complaints involve money “intended for poor hungry people” that was taken away from them.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered investigations into citizen’s complaints of alleged anomalies in the distribution of SAP, money meant for households whose livelihoods were affected by the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government said Monday that the anomalies involve “splitting, falsification of the masterlist, getting a ‘cut’ or ‘tara’ from the SAP beneficiaries.”

Cases are also being built against 110 other barangay officials after the DILG received 318 complainants nationwide.

Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said that prosecutors from other parts of the country received complaints over SAP distribution. These too will be prioritized.

“Cases are all over the country not only here at Main (DOJ Manila). I instructed all heads of office all over the country to set these for preliminary investigation asap, to monitor progress and report to us,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte said in early May that the government will hand out a cash reward of P30,000 to those who will report local officials who pocket government aid meant for the poor.

It is unclear where the funds for the reward will be sourced. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from The STAR/Evelyn Macairan

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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