Officials in Philippines accused of corruption related to COVID-19

437 Filipino officials and their civilian accomplices have been charged for allegedly stealing the government’s COVID-19 cash aid, on August 24, media company Coconuts reports.

Philippine Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement that nearly half of 437 cases filed before the Department of Justice were against elected public officials such as municipal mayors, councilors, and village captains.

Meanwhile, at least 102 cases were filed against civil servants such as village secretaries, treasurers, and health personnel, while the rest were against civilians.

In addition, the police are investigating 626 suspects who were allegedly involved in stealing the government’s funds.

The suspects have been charged for violating anti-corruption laws and embezzling public funds aimed at combating the COVID-19 epidemic.

– Our fight against corruption is just as difficult as our fight against COVID-19; it’s difficult to eradicate it completely, but we will not rest until we punish those who are corrupt, – Eduardo Año said.

Under the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act of 2020, the government has to provide dole-outs of up to PHP 8,000 ($157) for 18 million low-income families, compensation of PHP 100,000 ($1,959) for health workers severely infected by the virus, and payouts of PHP 1 million ($9,591) for families of those killed by the virus in the line of duty.

Many Filipinos complained about the sluggish aid distribution while some even lamented that they did not receive any payouts.

The Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development had promised to complete the second phase of the payouts by the end of June but as of Aug. 10, only 11.2 million have been given the aid.