BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
The Bacolod City Prosecutor’s Office has dismissed charges filed against Mansilingan Barangay Captain Rodulfo “Boy” Pico Jr., Alangilan Barangay Captain Degie Tanista Sr., and 29 others over their alleged involvement in the selection of beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Criminal charges for Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), RA 11469 (Bayanihan to Heal as One Act), and RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) were filed against Pico and barangay secretary Edward Menesis and members of the Barangay Mansilingan Selection Process Team, as well as Tanista, Kagawad Michael Solano, six barangay staffers and 13 surveyors by residents of the barangay with the help of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in July and June, respectively.
The cases against Pico and nine others, as well as that of Tanista and 21 others were both dismissed by the City Prosecutor without prejudice to its refilling and presentation of additional evidences.
In the case gainst Pico, the complainants claimed that the Barangay Selection Process Team allegedly manipulated the selection of beneficiaries qualified to avail of the SAP during the period April 24 to 30, 2020.
They claimed that the respondents listed 30 names of SAP beneficiaries who were not qualified to avail of the subsidy as they gave incorrect or false information and are either relatives or political affiliates.
In its minute resolution dated July, 28, the Prosecutor said the evidence adduced failed to support such allegation that these 30 SAP beneficiaries favorably selected by respondents are indeed relatives or political allies of the latter.
The Prosecutor added that the complainants have failed to abide by the grievance machinery provided for in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Memorandum Circular No. 14, series of 2020 (Grievance on the Additional Beneficiaries).
Meanwhile, in the case filed against Tanista and 21 others, the Prosecutor said they do not agree with the complainant and they find no irregularity on the procedure of the respondents as explained in their counter-affidavit.
The respondents declared that they religiously followed the guidelines set forth by the inter-agency task force (IATF) and DSWD, and that all the beneficiaries of the SAP fund were qualified and their eligibilities were properly evaluated and a[[roved by the DSWD.
They also pointed out that the complainants failed to utilize the grievance machinery as provided for in DSWD MC No. 14, series of 2020.
The Prosecutor dismissed the case considering that the action filed by the complainants is premature and for insufficiency of evidence to establish probable cause for any of the crimes filed against the respondents.*