By Zaldy De Layola

CRIMINAL CHARGES. Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office-11 Director Vanessa Goc-Ong (in red vest) assists Anne Villarin (seated, left) in filing criminal and administrative charges against two village officials at the Office of the Ombudsman in Davao City on Thursday (June 13, 2024). The chief and a councilor of Barangay Sinawilan in Matanao, Davao del Sur admitted that they gave only PHP1,500 of the supposed PHP10,000 cash assistance for the pregnant Villarin during a payout on June 6. (DSWD photo)

MANILA – Criminal and administrative charges have been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman in Davao City against two village officials involved in the deduction of PHP8,500 from the PHP10,000 worth of aid given to a pregnant beneficiary on June 6.

In a Friday news release, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported that its Field Office-11 (Davao Region) assisted Anne Villarin in the filing of charges against the Barangay Sinawilan chief and a councilor in Matanao, Davao del Sur.

The two officials admitted in a video interview with Brigada News FM Davao to giving only PHP1,500 to the pregnant beneficiary, distributed in Digos City under the Presidential Assistance to Farmers, Fishermen and their Families.

“Our office has also provided Mrs. Villarin with an additional PHP8,500 because she refused to accept the money being returned by the barangay officials after the post went viral,” Assistant Secretary for Disaster Response Management Group and DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao said.

Based on the instruction of DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian, a complaint affidavit was jointly executed by Villarin and DSWD FO-11 Regional Director Vanessa Goc-ong, a lawyer, on behalf of the Department.

The formal complaint was submitted to the Ombudsman in the Davao Region, together with the affidavit of witnesses and authentication executed by the Brigada News FM Davao reporter and Field Office-11’s legal assistant.

“As guaranteed by Secretary Gatchalian, the barangay officials will be held accountable and be given the harshest action. We will also ensure to maintain an open communication with Mrs. Villarin throughout the pendency of the case and to assist her as she nears the end-stage of her pregnancy,” Dumlao assured.

She emphasized that DSWD cash aids are for the beneficiaries alone, and nobody, not even government officials, should take a cut. (PNA)