EL NIDO, Palawan — Some residents of Barangay Villa Libertad have accused certain barangay officials of requiring them to pay a “purok ID and membership fee” of P250 before they could receive relief goods from the local government.

Some residents took to Facebook to express dismay on the barangay officials alleged to be charging P50 purok identification (ID) and P200 membership fee before getting the relief packs.

“Hindi naman maka-tao na sinisingil pa kami e hirap na hirap na nga kami. Matagal na kaming residente at kilala naman nila siguro kami kasi matagal na ‘yong bahay namin dito. Kahit ‘yong asawa ko kilala naman sa barangay,” one netizen said.

Reacting to the allegation, Villa Libertad barangay captain Johny Fabregas clarified that a purok ID for Villa Libertad is not a requirement for the receiving of relief aid. He said thay in lieu of a purok ID, a resident can present any ID proving that they are indeed residents of Villa Libertad.

Fabregas also denied they are collecting a “membership fee”, even as he explained that the purok ID fee of P50 is only for documentation purposes, and is not a requirement for relief aid.

He said that the purok ID was implemented in 2018 in order to keep track of Villa Libertad’s residents. Fabregas noted that there was an increase of unregistered residents, particularly construction workers. There was also an increase of crimes in Villa Libertad committed by undocumented residents of the area, which is why the purok ID was implemented.

Fabregas also clarified that the purok ID is merely for proof of residence and not a requirement for relief aid. He also said that anyone who has not yet received any food aid can come to the barangay hall to claim their goods, as well as clarify any concerns.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) warned it will go after abusive local government unit (LGU) and barangay officials who are taking advantage of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to raise funds.

Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año, who recently tested positive for the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19), said that if proven to have engaged in illegal acts, LGU and barangay officials will “certainly be suspended or placed behind bars as their despicable act in a time of a public health emergency is unbecoming of a government official and goes against the tenets of public service.”

“Mahiya kayo sa mga balat ninyo. Sisiguraduhin ko na makukulong ang mga abusadong ‘yan na nakuha pang manloko ng mga kababayan nila sa panahon ng krisis na tulad nito. You are expected to help your people not cause them more sufferings,” he said. (with reports from Patricia Laririt)

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.