MANILA - Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is looking to file qualified theft and estafa charges against those involved in alleged anomalies in the implementation of Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD).
The Department of Labor and Employment earlier suspended its flagship program — which aims to provide emergency employment for displaced workers for 10 days and pay them minimum wage — in three districts in Quezon City amid allegations that some officials allegedly pocketed the majority of the salaries of its beneficiaries.
Bello said some P30 to 40 million worth of funds for TUPAD are being investigated.
Under the program, LGUs identify beneficiaries and provide employment within barangays in exchange for daily minimum wage which amounts to more than P5,000 at the end of the 10 day period.
But beneficiaries in three districts in Quezon City have claimed they received less, with some only receiving P1,000.
Upon DOLE’s own investigation, it was found that some beneficiaries did not even work, which means they are not even eligible for the payment.
“Eh siyempre itong mga taong ito kailangan nila pera, baka pumayag na rin. Pero ang talagang mastermind diyan ... scammer diyan eh 'yung mga coordinators,” Bello said.
He refused to speculate whether there are DOLE field officers involved.
The case has been endorsed to the National Bureau of Investigation.
The Quezon City government earlier expressed full support for DOLE's probe on the alleged irregularities in the agency’s distribution of benefits under TUPAD.
“Kung kumpirmado, nakalulungkot ang pangyayaring ito dahil marami sa ating mga residente ang nawalan ng karampatang benepisyo na malaki sana ang maitutulong ngayong panahon ng pandemya,” Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said in a statement.