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DSWD chief orders charges vs barangay exec behind deduction from 10k aid of pregnant woman

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Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian on Monday (June 10) ordered the regional director of the DSWD Field Office 11 (Davao Region) to assist in the filing of charges against a barangay official who deducted Php8,500 from the Php10,000 worth of aid given to a pregnant woman last June 6.

“We are calling on all beneficiaries to never allow anybody to give their cash grants to them. Their grants are for them. And if somebody tries to get it, what they should do is report to the DSWD rather than give the cash grant,” Secretary Gatchalian said.

The DSWD Davao Region field office identified the victim as Anne Villarin, a beneficiary of Php10,000 worth of cash aid under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) during the June 6 payout in Davao.

A still unnamed individual later told the pregnant Villarin “to remit the Php10,000” to her barangay only to find out later that the Php8,500 was withheld from her and she was only given Php1,500 by the barangay official.

“As soon as we saw the complaining victim online, we sent our social workers to see her and they were able to verify her complaint about the original Php10,000 cash aid becoming a measly P1,500 after it was remitted to her barangay,” Secretary Gatchalian said.

The DSWD chief ordered Davao Regional Director Vanessa Goc-ong to accompany Villarin in filing both administrative and criminal complaint against the barangay official involved.

Secretary Gatchalian said the DSWD Field Office 11 will not only accompany Ms. Villarin in filing her complaint but will also serve as a co-complainant since the Php10,000 came from the AICS program of the Department.

“Let this be a warning to all. DSWD cash grants are for beneficiaries alone. Nobody, not even government officials, should take part of these cash aids,” Secretary Gatchalian stressed.

Initial investigation by the DSWD Field Office 11 showed that Villarin received the Php10,000 cash aid last June 6 and on the same day she posted a video thanking DSWD for the cash assistance.

But on the same day, a still unnamed individual told Villarin to report to her barangay to remit the Php10,000 cash aid.

The following day, June 7, Villarin reported to her barangay only to find out that an official withheld the Php8,500 and only Php1,500 was given to her.

This prompted Villarin to go on video to denounce the injustice done to her by her barangay on the same day of June 7. Her video immediately became viral and now has 1.7 million views.

On Saturday (June 8), Regional Director Goc-ong was swamped by queries by the local media regarding the viral video of Villarin.

“Nasaktan ang beneficiary na kinuha ng barangay yung pera niya. Nag-appeal sa DSWD to get back the money na kinuha from her plus request for assistance on her impending child birth,” Director Goc-ong said.

Following the DSWD chief’s directive, Director Goc-ong assured Villarin that social workers will accompany her in filing the appropriate charges against the erring barangay official.

The complainant has been secured by the DSWD’s Davao Field Office, making sure that Villarin can file her case and testify against the concerned barangay officials without being threatened.

Personnel from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Philippine National Police (PNP) will accompany the DSWD and complainant Villarin in the filing of appropriate charges on Monday (June 10).

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