The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is warning all Local Government Units about injecting politics in the distribution of relief goods to the poorest of the poor at this time of national calamity.
“We have received reports that some barangays are selective in their distribution of relief goods, requiring the presentation of voter’s IDs or prioritizing their friends and relatives. Wala pong politika sa panahon ng sakuna. Matagal pa ang eleksyon. Serbisyo muna,” DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said.
He said that the newly signed RA 11469 otherwise known as “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act” provides penalties to LGU officials disobeying national government policies or directives during this period of national emergency. Section 6 of RA 11469 imposes imprisonment of two (2) months or a fine of not more than One Million pesos or both, at the discretion of the court, for violations of the said law.
The DILG Chief said that he will not hesitate to file charges against barangay officials injecting politics into relief distribution at this time of national calamity if warranted by evidence.
He said that he has organized monitoring teams in all regions of the country to monitor and investigate the conduct of LGU officials including barangays. “Usec Marivel Sacendoncillo will lead the monitoring for provinces, cities, and towns while Usec. Martin Diño will monitor the barangays,” he said.
He also lauded the "White Ribbon initiative" of a barangay in Guiguinto, Bulacan which prioritizes the less fortunate families of the community in the distribution of relief goods.
In the Laging Handa press briefing in Malacañang, DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año emphasized the prioritization of the poorest families as beneficiaries of the LGUs in handing out relief goods.
"Unahin natin ang ating mga mahihirap na mga kababayan sapagkat sila po ang pinakaapektadong sektor sa ating pakikipaglaban sa COVID-19 kaya inaatasan ko ang mga LGU na gawin silang prayoridad sa pamamahagi ng tulong at relief goods," Año said.
He said that upon the declaration of 'state of calamity', LGUs are free to utilize their quick response fund to buy food packs to be given out to their less fortunate constituents. "Make the poorest family your priority. Unahin po natin ang mga mahihirap dahil mas kailangan po nila ang ating tulong."
The DILG Secretary lauded the "White Ribbon initiative" of Barangay Malis in Guiguinto, Bulacan saying that "it is a simple yet meaningful way ensuring that the less fortunate families will get their relief packages from the LGUs."
"Maganda itong White Ribbon na hakbang ng Barangay Malis na nagpapakita ng kagandahang-loob at pagtutulungan ng mga mamamayan. Ito rin ay isang paraan para matiyak na ang mga mahihirap na miyembro ng pamayanan ay mapagkakalooban ng tulong ng pamahalaang lokal," Año said.
"It [White Ribbon initative] is a demonstration of the genuine heart of the Filipinos in helping people in need," he added.
Año explained that the said initiative asks residents to tie a white ribbon on their doors or gates signifying that they want to waive or pass on their relief packages so that it can be given to poor families who could not afford to buy their own food at this time.
"Nakakatuwa na sa panahon ng krisis ay pinipili pa ng ating mga kababayan na kahit papaano ay may kakayahang bumili ng pagkain na tumulong sa mas nangangailangan sa kanila. Salamat po sa inyo," he says.
According to Barangay Malis' Punong Barangay Cezar Mendoza, the initiative stems from the small number of relief goods they received that cannot accommodate the 4,264 households they need to assist. He says that through their social media accounts, he encouraged citizens to tie a White ribbon or cloth on their doors or gates if they will waive their share so that this can be given to the less fortunate.
"Nakakatuwa po na karamihan po sa mga nag-waive ng kanilang relief ay hindi din naman po kayamanan pero nagkusa po sila. Ang sabi po nila sa akin 'ibigay mo na lang sa mga mas mahihirap dito sa atin yan'," Mendoza shared as he confirmed that more than 200 households tied a white ribbon on their doors.
The DILG Chief says that he hopes well off families will exercise the same attitude of sharing. "Sana ay ang ating mga kababayan who are well off or nakaka-angat sa buhay ay ma-inspire sa ganitong mga hakbang para ang tulong ay maipagkaloob sa mahihirap nating mga kababayan na mas nangangailangan," he said.
He then urged those who have complaints against their LGU to report it to the DILG Emergency Operations Center hotlines 02-8876-3454 local 8806/8810 or 02-8925-0343.