NINE barangay captains in Central Visayas are facing a six-month preventive suspension over anomalies and irregularities involving the implementation of the first tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
Five are from Cebu. They are Patricio Soco of Barangay Alang-Alang, Mandaue City, Ulysses Raganas of Barangay Linao, Talisay City; Zosima Rojo of Barangay Upper, Natimao-an, Carmen; Norman Navarro of Barangay Basak-San Nicolas, Cebu City; Ignacio Cortes II of Barangay Centro, Mandaue City.
The other four are Rodolfo Simbajon of Barangay Guio-ang, Guindulman, Bohol; Mario Lamanilao of Barangay Calituban, Talibon, Bohol; Eugene Zamora of Barangay Taloto, Tagbilaran City, Bohol; and Mercedita Uy of Barangay Cancawas, San Jose, Negros Oriental.
They are among the 89 barangay captains nationwide who have been suspended following the filing of complaints by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) against them for SAP irregularities.
In a statement on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said he directed the respective municipal/city Mayors of these barangay captains to immediately implement the order of the Office of the Ombudsman upon receipt while the DILG Regional and field officers were directed to ensure the orderly implementation of the first mass suspension in the country.
Año thanked Ombudsman Samuel Martires for immediately acting on the complaints filed by the DILG against the erring barangay officials.
He said this action will serve as a stern warning to all local government units that the DILG does not tolerate any wrongdoing, especially while the country is in the middle of the coronavirus disease pandemic.
In an order dated Sept. 2, the Office of the Ombudsman said “the evidence on record shows that the guilt of these punong barangays is strong and the charges against them involve serious dishonesty, grave misconduct, abuse of authority and conduct prejudicial to the best Interest of the service which may warrant removal from the service.”
The Ombudsman maintained that the continued stay of these punong barangays in office may prejudice the case filed against them, “[so] placing them under preventive suspension for a period of six months pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 6770 is proper under the premises.”
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesman Jonathan Malaya said that acting on the orders of the DILG, the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has already filed criminal cases against 447 individuals for violations of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), RA 11469 (Bayanihan Act I), and RA 6713 (Code of Conduct of Government Officials and Employees) among others, again in relation to the implementation of the SAP.
Of the 447 suspects, 211 are elected local and barangay officials, 104 are appointed barangay officials and 132 are their civilian co-conspirators. The cases are being handled by different city and provincial prosecutors across the country who have started the filing of the necessary information against the suspects in courts.
Meanwhile, Basak San Nicolas Barangay Captain Navarro refused to issue a statement as he is yet to receive a communication from the DILG regarding the suspension.
Of the 80 barangay captains in Cebu City, only Navarro’s name appeared on the list.
SunStar Cebu tried to get the side of Barangay Captains Patricio Soco of Barangay Alang-Alang and Ignacio Cortes II of Barangay Centro, both in Mandaue City, but calls and texts to their cellphones remained unanswered as of press time.
In a statement, John Eddu Ibañez, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes’ executive secretary, said the two barangay officials won’t comment on the matter until they officially received the complaints.
In Talisay City, Linao Barangay Captain Raganas told SunStar Cebu he plans to file a formal reply to the DILG and plans to ask the City Government to help him with his legal woes.
Raganas has also yet to receive the suspension order. (WBS with PR, JJL, KFD, JKV)