DILG: 89 barangay chiefs suspended over cash aid program anomalies

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — The Office of the Ombudsman has suspended for six months 89 barangay chairpersons over alleged anomalies in their implementation of the financial assistance program for their constituents who have been most affected by COVID-19, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said Saturday.

“Some 89 Punong Barangays across the country have been placed on six-month preventive suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman following the filing of complaints by the Department of the Interior and Local Government against the said barangay officials for anomalies and irregularities involving the implementation of the first tranche of the Social Amelioration Program,” the DILG said in a statement.

Interior chief Eduardo Año directed mayors to immediately act on the suspension order upon receiving their copies.

Año said most of those who were ordered suspended are from the regions of Ilocos Region with 12 local officials, Metro Manila with 11 and the Cagayan Valley with 10.

Only Soccsksargen, which is composed of South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos, has no suspended barangay official.

The DILG said it has filed cases against 447 individuals for violations of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, RA 11469 (Bayanihan To Heal As One Act, and Code of Conduct of Government Officials and Employees over their handling of the emergency subsidy program. Of the figure, “211 are elected local and barangay officials, 104 are appointed barangay officials and 132 are their civilian co-conspirators.”

The government placed Luzon under the strictest movement restrictions in March until May to curb the spread of coronavirus, prompting it to distribute billions of pesos of aid under the social amelioration program since millions of Filipinos were unable to work during that period.

The first tranche of the government's financial aid program initially covered nearly 18 million low-income households, who were targeted to receive ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 in cash assistance. The second round of cash aid distribution is still ongoing, according to the government.