Ombudsman may suspend local officials over delayed aid

File photo (PNA/Joey O. Razon)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday warned local government officials anew that the Office of the Ombudsman could order their suspension over delays in the distribution of cash aid for low-income families.

In a pre-recorded speech, he slammed local government units (LGUs) for failing to immediately dole out cash assistance which the poor can use to buy food amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

He said the moment he receives any report of delays, the Ombudsman can act on their suspension.

“Pagka kayong may mga complaint, oras na dumating sa akin ‘yan, diretso na ‘yan sa Ombudsman. Bahala na kayo doon sa buhay ninyo. Because the Ombudsman can order you dismissed, order you -- you face charges,” he said. “The Ombudsman can suspend you anytime. With strong reasons or with weak reasons, that has to be seen but he has that power.”

Duterte lamented how the bureaucratic red tape would always get in the way of the distribution of cash aid, particularly in provinces.

He urged them to ‘do away with delay” by simplifying the process of doling out cash assistance.

“What I would like to happen is this: Simplify the giving of the money by asking for a proposal, then that proposal should not be studied by days or by months. You just review it and if it says that it’s for food, you give it because it’s for food, kakainin ‘yan (that will be eaten). And all assistance connected with the health of a person,” he said.

Last August, Duterte said he had "no mercy" for local government officials who did not immediately act on telecommunication companies' application for permits to put up cell towers which are expected to improve internet services.

Duterte said the “biggest help” that they could offer him is to avoid delaying the government from implementing projects to improve the country

He earlier ordered local government officials to process necessary papers within three days.

The “Bayanihan to Heal As One” Act has given the national government powers to provide emergency subsidies to low-income families.

Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2020, states that the subsidy shall amount to a minimum of PHP5,000 to a maximum of PHP8,000 a month for two months to provide for basic food, medicine, and toiletries. (PNA)