CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development’s regional office in Northern Mindanao (DSWD-10) has clarified that none of its employees are involved in illegal activities following the arrest of an alleged scammer.
“No one in our office is involved. None of our staff are engaged in any illegal transaction,” said Mari-Flor Dollaga, DSWD’s regional director.
On July 19, a certain Jhon Carl Mendoza alias “Jay Lagrimas” was arrested during a police entrapment operation at a boarding house he was renting in Barangay Balulang, this city.
Mendoza, together with his group of five individuals, allegedly claimed he is a staff of DSWD and convinced people to enroll in the department’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for a fee, and other interventions such as the Assistance to Individual in Crisis Situation (AICS) where beneficiaries are provided aid for education, burial, transport as well as food and non-food, and Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
“We are upholding the integrity of the department and the integrity of field office 10. We don’t see any anomaly in our office,” Dollaga told reporters during a press briefing on July 20, where the suspect was also presented to the media at the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO) headquarter.
The regional director added that as soon her office received the information regarding the suspects’ activities, she immediately instructed staff members tasked with the 4Ps to check on DSWD-10’s workforce and their clients to validate the accusation.
“We checked the documents used by the suspects and we were able to verify that these are fakes and did not match the official documents of the DSWD. Even my name was incorrectly spelled,” she said, adding that none of the documentation forms being used by the suspects has entered the DSWD-10 system.
Dollaga noted that although the suspect and his group have been operating in other parts of the country for about several years, the alleged scammers have only been in the city for a month.
“We have already been notified of their presence in late June (this year). During that time, they have been going around and talking to prospective clients and handing out forms,” she said.
DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo advised citizens to be wary when people approach them for money to register in their programs.
“We are warning all our countrymen that if someone comes to you and asks if you want to become part of 4Ps, SAP, single parent benefits, there is no truth in these because we would never ask for money so you can benefit from DSWD,” Tulfo said during a virtual press conference on July 20.
He added that to deceive the public, the perpetrators would present fake DSWD identification cards, wear the agency’s standard red vest, and carry bogus documents for 4Ps membership.
Maj. Mario Mantala, Carmen police station commander, said the suspects would ask clients P500 so they can be registered in the educational assistance, a component of AICS, and P300 for enrolment in the SAP.
The suspect and his group have been operating in other areas, particularly in Bohol, Ilo-Ilo, Quezon City, and Mandaluyong, for four years now. They have collected at least P1.2 million from their operations.
In a phone interview Thursday, July 21, Lt. Col. Surki Sereñas, COCPO deputy city director for operations, said Mendoza and his accomplices will be facing charges for swindling, usurpation of authority, and falsification of public documents.
“We are now conducting a manhunt on the other suspects. His (Mendoza’s) confession will help us lead to his cohorts’ whereabouts,” he said. (davaotoday.com)