Duterte warns: Ombudsman may suspend officials behind delayed aid in localities

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 27) — President Rodrigo Duterte warned public officials anew that the Office of the Ombudsman may make them accountable for delaying the distribution of cash aid to pandemic-hit Filipinos.

In his recorded address to the nation on Tuesday, Duterte once again aired his frustration to agencies over mounting complaints about the delayed rollout of cash assistance for the immediate needs of poor households.

Duterte warned: Once he receives any report of delay, the Ombudsman may immediately suspend or file charges against any erring official.

"Kapag nag-report sa akin, iyong report diretso na iyon sa (If someone reports to me, that report will head straight to the) Ombudsman for immediate action," he said. "The Ombudsman can suspend you anytime with strong reasons or with weak reasons, he has that power."

The President bared the tedious process in reviewing proposals and issuing cash aid permits to local government units, which usually takes weeks or months before they get approved.

"Iyang assistance, kailangang pangkain, nandyan agad. Sa probinsya, [pinapagawa] pa ng proposal, tapos they will review the proposal and it would take days...I do not know where the fault lies. Because it is something which is obnoxious," Duterte said.

[Translation: That assistance, people need it to get food. It should be immediately provided. In the province, they are being asked to make a proposal, and it will take days for it to be reviewed. I do not know where the fault lies. Because it is something which is obnoxious.]

Duterte then appealed to the Department of Health and the Department of Interior and Local Government to simplify the required cash aid proposals from localities.

"Simplify the giving of the money by asking for a proposal then that proposal should not be studied by days or months. Just review it...then you give it because it is for their food," the President said. "All assistance connected to the health of the people, ibigay ninyo (just give it to them), do away with delay."

He also challenged them to process each request in a maximum of two days, or expect immediate action from the Ombudsman.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development said earlier this month that it is close to completing the distribution of the second tranche of the P5,000 to P8,000 worth of emergency cash subsidy to 14 million beneficiaries. The department said 13,967,000 households have so far received the aid provided under the government's Social Amelioration Program.