Over 400 local officials and their civilian accomplices have been charged for allegedly stealing the government’s COVID-19 cash aid, the Department of Interior and Local Government said today.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement that nearly half of 437 cases filed before the Department of Justice were against elected public officials such as municipal mayors, councilors, and village captains. The allegedly erring officials were sued in places such as Metro Manila and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. Meanwhile, at least 102 cases were filed against civil servants such as village secretaries, treasurers, and health personnel, while the rest were against civilians. It’s unclear when the alleged corruption took place, or when the cases against the suspects were filed.
The suspects have been charged for allegedly violating Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, RA 11469 or the Bayanihan (“Camaraderie”) To Heal as One Act of 2020, and RA 11332 or the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases.
In addition, the police are investigating 626 suspects who were allegedly involved in stealing the government’s funds.
Año said that they’re clamping down on”corrupt officials and their accomplices” as the government disburses the second installment of the COVID-19 cash aid.
“Our fight against corruption is just as difficult as our fight against COVID-19; it’s difficult to eradicate it completely, but we will not rest until we punish those who are corrupt,” Año said.
Under the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act of 2020, the government has to provide dole-outs of up to PHP8,000 (US$157) for 18 million low-income families. Many Filipinos complained about the sluggish aid distribution while some even lamented that they did not receive any payouts. The Department of Social Welfare and Development had promised to complete the second phase of the payouts by the end of June but as of Aug. 10, only 11.2 million have been given the aid.
Año did not address the sluggish disbursals but said that he is confident that there will be fewer complaints about alleged corruption now that the second phase of the payouts will be distributed through bank transfers which began early this month.
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