FIVE officials of Barangay Managase, Tabogon town, including their village chief, were arrested by local police due to alleged irregularities in the distribution of the first tranche of the barangay’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
Arrested by the police were Managase Barangay Capt. Santiago Sollano, councilor Ruthlene Sobredo Ybanez, chief tanod Nolito Ybanez, and barangay health workers Noemi Bontia and Jessa Ursal.
Police Lt. Derrick Into, Tabogon police chief, said the arrest stemmed from a warrant issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Bogo City Judge Glenn Jumao-as following a complaint filed against the five officials over allegations that they were involved in anomalies in the SAP distribution.
The five were charged for alleged violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Tabogon Mayor Ziefried Duterte told SunStar Cebu some concerned citizens complained that Sollano and the four other village officials split the P6,000 SAP cash aid into three portions to
accommodate those who were not qualified to receive assistance.
Duterte said he was surprised when he heard of the arrest from the town’s police chief.
Duterte said the incident should serve as a lesson to other village officials not to mess with government funds intended for their constituents.
“We have not been remiss in reminding them to be careful with the money given by the national government. That is not our money. It is for the people,” Duterte said in Cebuano.
He said the municipal government will not provide legal assistance to the five village officials —- the second set of barangay officials from Cebu Province issued arrest warrants in connection with anomalies related to the SAP distribution.
On Oct. 21, 2020, officials of Barangay Tubod, Barili town, southern Cebu were also arrested due to suspected SAP anomalies.
In Mandaue City, a 60-day preventive suspension order was served by Mayor Jonas Cortes against two barangay captains allegedly involved in SAP anomalies.
Barangay Centro Captain Ignacio Cortes II and Barangay Alang-Alang chief Patricio Soco’s 60-day preventive suspension began on Tuesday, Oct. 27.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) ordered local chief executives to immediately implement the suspension upon receipt of the order from the Office of the Ombudsman.
Kenneth Kilat, DILG-Mandaue head, said the barangay captains can no longer engage in the administrative operation of their respective barangays during the 60-day suspension period.
Kilat clarified the suspension is not a judgment but only so the captains cannot influence the results of an ongoing investigation.
The order will not hinder the operations of the barangay as the next highest-ranking elected officer or the first councilor will automatically assume their position, said Kilat.
In a separate interview, Centro Barangay Captain Cortes said he was “shocked” upon receipt of the order.
He said all criminal charges filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in court were already dismissed.
While he waited for summons from the Ombudsman in relation to the administrative charges filed against him, He did not receive any, he said.
The Centro barangay chief denied any involvement in SAP anomalies saying their role was only to list down recommended beneficiaries and it was the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in charge of validation.
“It’s part of being in public service. It’s sad to say that during the pandemic, we are also risking our lives,” Cortes said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
SunStar Cebu tried to get the statement of Soco but the Alang-Alang barangay captain could not be reached. (JKV, KFD)