LGU probe aboveboard — DILG

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Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) spokesman Jonathan Malaya on Tuesday said there’s nothing wrong with the agency’s directive for the police to investigate certain local government units for alleged irregularities.

Malaya said there is an ongoing investigation on at least 37 towns and cities pursuant to complaints the DILG has been receiving regarding fixers, unscrupulous officials and poor delivery of government services through the government hotline 8888 and the National Action Center.

“Some 300 local government units were the subject of most complaints,” said Malaya, adding the DILG referred most of the cases to the Office of the Ombudsman.

He said DILG is sifting through all the complaints and those found serious enough to merit investigation are submitted to the anti-graft watchdog.

“If we see the complaints are serious, then we have to do something about it,” said Malaya. “We refer such complaints to the Ombudsman.”

The DILG spokesman noted that under Republic Act 6795 or Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990, the agency has the power of supervision over local government units.

In compliance with DILG directive, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) is investigating several towns and cities for alleged “irregularities in their disbursement of public funds.”

Human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno, who is running for the Senate under the opposition slate, tagged the investigations as “alarming” and highly unusual.

“This is the first time I’ve encountered the Philippine National Polic (PNP) demanding such documents. Why is the CIDG the one investigating these matters? Isn’t it supposed to be the Ombudsman?” Diokno said.

But Malaya explained that part of DILG’s “Bantay Corruption” program is to investigate alleged graft in local government units with the help of the PNP.

“The PNP is part of the DILG, so we saw it fit to give the PNP the authority to investigate,” said Malaya. “The PNP, on the other hand, endorsed it to the CIDG.”

Around 300 cases were endorsed by DILG to the PNP-CIDG for investigation. The CIDG has summoned 37 officials allegedly involved in the corruption, invoking its subpoena power.
However, Malaya said it would be unfair to release the list of LGU allegedly involved in corruption, especially since it is near election season.

“It would also be unfair that while we’re still on the investigation stage we would already crucify these mayors,” he said.

Malaya said majority of the complaints received were related to the required Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, particularly the failure of local officials to disclose properties or business interests.

If the accusations are proven, the concerned officials may be charged with serious dishonesty or neglect of duty.

Other top complaints include alleged irregularity in the bidding process, projects without the approval of the local council, illegal disbursement or diversion of public funds, unliquidated funds and nepotism.

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