CDO council to submit corruption complaint on COVID ayuda to DILG 

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 05 March) — The City Council Committee on Social Services is set to give a copy to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) of a sub-committee report containing corruption allegations on the distribution of  P767.8 million “ayuda” (cash assistance) to thousands of residents here during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Councilor Joyleen Mercedes Balaba, chair of the social services committee of the City Council, said they would submit to the DILG on Monday the report of Councilor James Judith alleging that former Mayor Oscar Moreno, former city administrator Teodoro Sabugaa Jr., and Christopher Fabello, former overseer of the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD) committed fraud in the amount of at least P50 million.

Former Mayor Oscar Moreno on Thursday, March 2, explains the events leading to the distribution of the P767.8 million COVID-19 cash assistance as he defended himself from allegations of corruption. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Judith, who belongs to the minority, Centrist Democratic Party, and who chairs the ad hoc committee created on investigate the corruption allegations said the three former city officials stole money from the national government P767.8 million COVID-19 assistance program by padding the recipients with false entries.

“Our committee decided to submit the report of Councilor Judith to the DILG to be fair with him although we found that there was no evidence of the alleged corruption in his report,” Balaba said.

Balaba, who belongs to the majority, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), said her fellow committee members decided to give Judith “a benefit of the doubt” and allow the DILG to decide if there is enough evidence for filing a case against Moreno and his former officials.

“So Judith will not say that we in the majority do not believe in him. We know the DILG will not find merit in his allegations,” she said.

Balaba said it was a pity for Judith to malign Moreno who had been widely praised nationwide for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said Judith’s report is “a rehash” of the investigation made by the previous City Council on the matter.

“The previous council did not find any wrongdoing in the distribution. I do not know where Judith got his conclusion since he is using the same data the council had before,” Balaba said.

Balaba said the DSWD region 10 had cleared Moreno during the investigation by the previous city council.

Judith said in his report that he found double entries and fictitious names of respondents in barangays Bugo, Balulang, Caniton, Nazareth and Lapasan.

He said the P787.8 million aid came from the national government downloaded to the Cagayan de Oro City government to give to 293,502 residents when the status of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was implemented in the city during the pandemic two years ago.

Judith said a family of four should have received P4,000 ayuda from the national government from the list prepared by the Department of Social Welfare and Development region 10 office.

“We have samplings of those who were on the list but did not receive any money,” Judith said in his report.

Judith alleged that Moreno and the former officials were culpable of corruption since “they have full control and supervision” in the distribution of the money.

Moreno flatly denied the allegation saying at no time did he, Sabugaa and Fabello get hold of the money.

“ The P787.8 million aid was downloaded by the national government to the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) who transferred it to the city government. At no time was the money given to us,” Moreno said.

Moreno said DSWD representatives also accompanied distribution of the money to residents and the requirements were very stringent.

“After a resident received the money, DSWD and CSWD personnel would take their picture with the money as proof,” Moreno said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)