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Martial law in Mindanao boosts AFP’s anti-graft role

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao―The extension of martial law in Mindanao has extended the security role of the police and the military in preventing the theft of government resources intended for the poor, officials said Wednesday.

They said that extension would enable the military and the Philippine National Police to protect government resources from rebel groups and drug syndicates.

Major General Arnel Dela Vega, commander of the 6th Army Infantry Division, said “if one is hindered, the community is able to prevent a part of the concern from further aggravating a whole problem.”

The alleged manipulation by unscrupulous groups or individuals include illegal assigning of beneficiaries and partitioning of government resources to fake dole beneficiaries. 

Lawyer Laisa Alamia, executive secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, warned that under martial law, security forces were also authorized to covertly investigate anomalies and send their findings to higher authorities for appropriate legal action.

Alamia, who is concurrent regional secretary of the DSWD-ARMM, told the peace and order council meetings here on Feb. 26 and on March 1 that any action by the security sector to address the problem of corruption “will be out of the DSWD jurisdiction.”

De la Vega said the military interventions included surgical operations that had, so far, yielded loose firearms possibly used to intimidate dole recipients in the  villages of Barira, Datu Salibo, Datu Unsay in Maguindanao and in Midsayap, Cotabato.

De la Vega said the very reason why martial law had been extended was that the problem of corruption in local governance had become rampant and almost beyond the control by civilian authorities.

“This is a privilege for us to be with you in this noble endeavor together with the regional government to tackle one of the most pressing concerns in the ARMM,” Dela Vega said. 

“The very reason why martial law has been extended is because of the problem in governance, especially in the implementation of government programs to address poverty.

“The 4Ps [dole] program is funded by the government to directly deliver assistance to the poorest of the poor. However when this program is not properly implemented, this will add up to the vicious cycle of corruption of funds, loose firearms, illegal drugs, criminality, arm conflicts and terrorism,” Dela Vega said. 

“These issues are interconnected. If one is hindered, the community is able to prevent a part of the concern to further aggravate the problem.”

The 4Ps is one of the poverty reduction strategies of the national government implemented by the DSWD in collaboration with the Department of Health, the Department of Education and Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

The package of assistance includes a cash grant, educational financial assistance, prepaid health cards as well as rice subsidy for each beneficiary-family.

A cross-matching of list of village beneficiaries has resulted in a validation that only 42 percent of the recipients in the government lists are real beneficiaries. The rest or 58 percent, mostly in the category of “students”, are “ghost recipients.”

Alamia said ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman had a firm directive on the conduct of audit on the lists of beneficiaries by cross-matching the DSWD list with the updated enrollment lists of the Department of Health for PhilHealth cards and the Department of Education for the list of students.

She said the other beneficiaries assigned by the DSWD-ARMM with biometric cards were found to be using other names.

“This serves as a warning and an appeal. We are giving everyone a chance to change,” Alamia said. “There are people who have biometric cards but are using other names. The lists are being cross-checked [from the ARMM records] of the DSWD, DoH and DepED through the triangulated revalidation [method].”       

Provincial Social Welfare Office Director Emma Ali said the 4Ps involves a conditional cash-transfer program designed for families with qualified dependents from zero to 18 years old.

Topics: Martial Law , Maguindanao , Philippine National Police , Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao , DSWD
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