MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said erring public officials who are proven to be involved in illicit activities would not get any help from him.
Duterte made the remarks in a taped public address aired on state-run PTV-4 on Friday morning as he reiterated his zero tolerance for corruption.
In his speech, Duterte said government officials should appropriately spend the funds earmarked for the implementation of programs aimed at arresting the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“Wala kayong maasahang tulong sa akin for after all, did I not warn you earlier na huwag itong pera na itong in-appropriate ng Congress binigay para i-implement natin (You will not get any help from me for after all, did I not warn you earlier not to pocket the money appropriated by Congress for us to implement [Covid-19 programs],” he said.
Duterte issued the statement as he asked Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año for an update on the distribution of cash assistance to poor families affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
Año told Duterte that the Department of the Interior and Local Government has already filed cases against erring local public officials who are pocketing the financial aid under the social amelioration program (SAP) that should have been received by the intended beneficiaries.
He added that many local government officials are also expected to face charges due to their supposed involvement in the unlawful release of SAP aid.
“Mga 155 barangay captain official ang aming iniimibestigahan. At ang 30 ay nai–refer na namin sa Ombudsman (We are investigating around 155 village captain officials and have referred 30 of these to the Ombudsman),” Año said. “So lahat pong ito ay kakasuhan namin sapagkat labag sa batas yung kanilang ginawa (We will file cases against them because they violate the law).”
Duterte warned that once public officials steal the money for “public purpose,” that can already be considered as malversation.
He said he would make sure that corrupt officials would go to jail.
“Once you accept the money and you misspend it or misappropriate it, it is malversation,” Duterte said.
Around PHP200 billion have been disbursed for the implementation of SAP, which grants emergency subsidies worth between PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 to low-income households amid the health crisis.
Around 18 million poor families are expected to receive the first tranche of the cash aid.
For the implementation of the second phase of SAP, some 12 million of the 18 million existing beneficiaries, along with the five million new recipients, will get the emergency subsidies.
Año said the distribution of the first wave of payouts is “almost 99 percent complete.”
“Nakahanda na rin naman po yung second tranche (The second tranche [of emergency subsidies] is also being readied),” he said. “At ang gagamitin naman dito ay ang ATM payment scheme kaya baka mas madali ang pagpapatupad ng second tranche (We will employ the ATM payment scheme for the faster distribution of the second tranche).” (PNA)