MANILA (UPDATED) - Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on Thursday said several "fixers" selling cash aid forms to unqualified beneficiaries were arrested in the city.
Fixers will give an unqualified person an ECQ ayuda form so that he or she can avail of the P4,000 cash aid from the national government, Sotto said in a statement.
The fixer and the validator who approved the release of cash aid to the unqualified individual get three-fourths of the sum or P3,000, while the unqualified beneficiary will pocket the remaining P1,000, the mayor said.
"Iniimbestigahan pa ng pulis kung may iba pang sangkot dito... May iba pang suspek. Ipapa-entrap din natin sila," he said.
(Police are investigating other people involved in the modus... There are other suspects. We will launch an entrapment operation against them.)
Sotto earlier said the national government gave Pasig some P650 million for cash aid, which is P30 million less than the amount the city got last year.
The city will prioritize giving the cash aid to families living in "pockets of poverty," Sotto said in an earlier interview.
Some 30,000 individuals will only receive food packs from the local government instead of cash, he said.
"Alam nating hindi kaya bigyan lahat ng cash ayuda mula sa nasyonal," he said.
(We now that not everyone will receive cash aid from the national government.)
"Basta't walang korapsyon o palakasan, ok tayo. Pero di pa rin talaga maalis-alis sa utak ng ibang tao ang panlalamang sa kapwa," he said, referring to the recent modus discovered in Pasig.
(As long as there is no corruption or favoritism, we are okay with that. But there are really people who cannot remove greed from their minds.)
Sotto slammed other unscrupulous individuals, saying they should not be spared from jail for stealing, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Sa mga MAGNANAKAW na nahuli at sa mga maaaring mahuhuli pa lang, pasensyahan na lang tayo," the mayor said.
(To all the thieves who were arrested and who will be arrested, I can't do anything for you.)
"Hindi na kayo naawa sa mga taong nangangailangan, tapos ngayon KAYO PA ang magpapaawa? Mas bagay kayo sa kulungan," he said.
(You did not pity those who were in need, and now you even have the gall to look pitiful? You belong in jail.)
HOW IT HAPPENED
A report from the Eastern Police District revealed that an informant tipped authorities about the modus, and an operation was mounted around 3:30 p.m. in a cash aid distribution site in Barangay Kalawaan.
Police recovered P31,000 from one of 18 suspects, who pooled the cash aid illegally obtained by bogus beneficiaries.
The money from the fake beneficiaries was accepted by the suspect who was waiting outside the distribution area, the report read.
While the suspect collected the stolen ECQ ayuda, 2 other cohorts were cash assistance evaluators who were in charge of approving bogus claims, police said.
Of the arrested fake beneficiaries, 7 were from Pasig, 4 from Marikina, 3 from Taytay and 1 from San Mateo, according to data from the police report.
"Appropriate charges will be filed against the suspects before the Pasig City Prosecutor’s Office after the completion of pertinent documents," the report read.
The local government has yet to determine the exact amount of cash aid the city has lost due to the modus as investigations are still ongoing, the Pasig City Public Information Office told reporters in a text message.
"Once naman na may resolution na on this or updates, PIO/Mayor will also post an update," the message read.
(Once there is an update or a resolution, the PIO or the Mayor will also post an update.)
As of August 18, Pasig City has distributed P288-million worth of ECQ ayuda to 92,645 beneficiaries, data from the city government showed.
This is 42.25 percent of the city's target recipients of cash aid from the national government.