Editorial: Know the truth ASAP, Mayor Rama

·2 min read

Investigation on Cebu City Hall’s distribution of the P5,000 cash aid for Typhoon Odette (Rai) victims is a must. This after reports of dead people being listed as beneficiaries of the assistance in Barangay Poblacion Pardo.

The list that include eligible individuals who are still alive and dead people were reportedly provided by the Mayor’s Information and Liaison Office in the barangay. This issue came to light after Poblacion Pardo Barangay Captain Archie Araw-Araw accused the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) of not following the barangay’s list, and he accused the City Hall office of altering the list.

DSWS head Portia Basmayor, in her reply, said the office had put in place guidelines for eligible beneficiaries who died after the list was completed. The guidelines must be followed by the deceased beneficiaries’ relatives before they can claim the financial assistance.

Typhoon Odette struck Cebu on Dec. 16, 2021. A Poblacion Pardo resident has claimed that his deceased father and brother have been included in the list of the cash aid beneficiaries. This happened even if his father has been dead for nine years already while his brother has been dead for five years now.

The DSWS has reportedly started its inquiry on the matter. But it would be wise for the office to take its hands off the investigation because it is directly involved in the cash aid distribution.

Mayor Michael Rama has vowed to look into the allegations raised by Araw-Araw, saying “I am not happy when I see an anomaly.” If he’s not happy with it, it is a must for the mayor to know the truth as soon as possible.

City Hall employees, if they are proven to have committed irregularities, will be terminated and prosecuted, the mayor has warned.

Rama failed to publicly divulge the timetable of the investigation or what office at City Hall he will task to lead the inquiry.

It would be better for the mayor to tap an independent body, perhaps the National Bureau of Investigation, to look into Araw-Araw’s allegations. If a City Hall office, presumably the legal office, would spearhead the probe, doubts could be hurled at its integrity and fear of cover-up could surface.

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