By Rjhay E. Laurea
MANILA — Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III has announced this morning (September 14) that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will provide livelihood or emergency employment to the victims of the TUPAD pay distribution scam.
The Labor chief personally visited Barangay Batasan Hills in Quezon City to listen to the grievances of Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced (TUPAD) worker-beneficiaries whose names were used by unscrupulous individuals who were allegedly behind the anomaly.
TUPAD is a continuous emergency employment program of DOLE that aims to provide a temporary livelihood to Filipinos who lost their jobs, especially during this time of the pandemic.
“Dahil itong mga nabiktima, eh kasi, hindi nga sila nagtrabaho pero pinalabas ng mga gunggong (scammers) na nagtrabaho sila para makakuha sila ng pera, pero hindi naman binigay sa kanila (The victims weren’t able to work but these fools made it appear that they worked so they could get the money. But the money was not given to them),” Bello explained.
He said, the implementation of the remaining P59-million worth of the DOLE-TUPAD program will continue in District 2, but it will be rechanneled through the barangay chairpersons.
“(Itutuloy) pa rin natin ang programa pero idadaan na lang din natin sa mga barangay captains dahil y’ung mga barangay captains ang nakakakilala sa mga residente sa kanilang barangay (We will continue to implement the program but we will course it thru to the barangay captains because the barangay captains are the ones who know the residents in their barangay),” Bello added.
He is confident the program is more secure with this system because the agency will know who to make accountable in case similar events happened in the future.
Furthermore, Bello said that it will be the DOLE that will file the case against the perpetrators of this scam and it’s the “People of the Philippines” who will serve as the complainant.
“Kami (DOLE) na rin ang magreklamo kasi sa amin nanggaling ang pera, pananagutan namin ‘yan. People of the Philippines ang complainant kasi pera ng taumbayan ‘yan (DOLE will be the one to file the case because the fund comes from us, we are accountable to it. The People of the Philippines will be the complainant because it’s from the people’s money),” he emphasized.
According to one of the victims named John Rey Agudabi, a certain Marlyn Velasco who, allegedly, is a coordinator of Congresswoman Precious Hipolito-Castelo recruited them last Holy Week of 2021.
“N’ung that time po, sinabihan na kami n’ung una pa lang na y’un nga lang daw ang puwede namin matanggap na P1,000 kasi hindi naman daw namin ito pinagtrabahuhan (That time, we were already informed beforehand that we will only get P1,000 because we didn’t work for it),” Agudabi disclosed.
Supposedly, the amount that the beneficiaries were entitled to be valued at P7,518 each.
For her part, DOLE-National Capital Region (DOLE-NCR) Regional Director Sarah Mirasol explained that the fact-finding team was organized to determine the lapses on the part of the Labor Department and the possible rooms for improvement.
Meanwhile, Bello assured the victims, who will also be the witnesses to the case, that they will be protected. Bello came to the barangay hall with investigators from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
“Kung sino man ang nakikinig ngayon na naging biktima nitong kalokohang ito huwag po kayong matakot. Magreklamo kayo. Sabihin niyo ang totoo para mahabol natin ‘yung may kagagawan ng kalokohan na ito. Poprotektahan namin kayo kaya nga po nagdala ako ng NBI para matulungan kayo (To the victims of this modus operandi who are listening right now, don’t be afraid. File a complaint. Tell the truth so we can go after perpetrators of these unscrupulous activities. We will protect you, that’s why I brought the NBI here to help you),” Bello pointed out. (ai/mtvn)