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Cebu City hall faces corruption allegations on unauthorized printing, selling of PWD cards

By: Pia Piquero - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | May 22,2024 - 05:29 PM

cebu city hall corruption

Cebu City Councilor James Cuenco addresses the alleged “corruption” involving the unauthorized printing and sale of PWD IDs inside the city hall during an executive session on Wednesday, May 22. | Photo screengrab from Sangguniang Panglungsod Cebu City -Secretariat

CEBU CITY, Philippines – A Cebu City councilor has raised issues of alleged corruption involving the unauthorized printing and selling of Persons with Disability (PWD) identification cards at the Cebu City Hall.

Cebu City Councilor James Cuenco raised this issue to the city council during a regular session on Wednesday, May 22, 2024.

“I rise on a question of personal and collective privilege to reveal to you an exposé that seems to be the talk of the town, but as always, we are the last to know: the abuse of one of the most valuable social services of the City of Cebu—our PWD program,” Cuenco said.

In his privileged speech, he stated that according to multiple sources, individuals not entitled to such benefits have been able to acquire a PWD card for a fee ranging from P2,000 to P4,000.

This fraudulent acquisition, Cuenco said, grants these individuals access to discounts intended exclusively for disabled constituents, including those at restaurants, parking facilities, and even on plane tickets.


Cebu City PWDs: Over 14,000 to receive cash aid starting April 5

“Hearing about this made me very angry and was disheartening, to say the least. This demonstrates a gross misuse of a system designed to support our most vulnerable citizens. Such abuse tarnishes the integrity of our city’s commitment to equitable social services and brings embarrassment to the City of Cebu,” he added.

‘Underlings’ involved in scheme

In an interview, Cuenco revealed that he already possesses a list of the “underlings” involved in the scheme and intends to summon them for an executive session to provide explanations and ultimately disclose the mastermind behind the corruption.

He disclosed that these underlings are all currently employed at Cebu City Hall.

Cuenco assured that this matter would not go unnoticed, as he is prepared to file criminal charges, including falsification, among others.

“I cannot even call them fake [IDs] because it comes from the printing office where the PWD cards are being printed. Ang problema ana, the cards themselves do not have security features, anyone can just copy them. Murag permado pa gani daan pag print,” he said.

The councilor further stated during his privileged speech that before addressing the issue, his office conducted a necessary investigation on May 16 into the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS), where the PWD unit is situated.

Steps for application of PWD cards

He mentioned that the staff denied such reports and assured them they adhere to a rigorous application process.

And this process includes the following steps:

Firstly, applicants must furnish required documents, such as proof of disability in the form of a medical certificate from a licensed physician, along with a certificate of barangay indigency, prioritizing indigent individuals for PWD benefits.

Secondly, applicants are required to provide photographs, including full-body pictures, to document their disabilities. They would also conduct in-person interviews with applicants who are physically able to visit the DSWS office.

Cuenco further mentioned that after conducting a thorough investigation and numerous inquiries, his team spoke with an able-bodied individual who was able to acquire a PWD card through questionable methods on May 20.

How it’s done

According to the councilor, this person disclosed that as early as August 2023, certain individuals associated with the Mayor’s office were implicated in this scheme.

“The process was shockingly simple: an able-bodied person pays a fee to these individuals and receives a printed blank PWD card without the need to submit any of the official requirements—no medical certificates, no interviews, no personal appearances. How convenient!” Cuenco said.

He added, “This situation is not only unfair to our genuine constituent PWDs but hurts our economic
establishments and the City as a whole.”

With this, Cuenco suggested several resolutions. He proposed scheduling an Executive Session to invite the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) and the DSWS – PWD Unit to inform the governing body of the PWD application process, safety measures ensuring the authenticity of PWD IDs and procedures for auditing the PWD master list.

The executive session is scheduled for June 6, 2024.

Additionally, Cuenco recommended inviting the Management Information and Computer Services (MICS) to propose an IT infrastructure during the Executive Session to eliminate fraudulent PWD IDs, enhance the PWD application process, and establish an authentication system for new PWD IDs.

Furthermore, he suggested inviting individuals such as Mr. Cerj Germudo, Mr. John Tolentino, Mr. Jay-R Cam from the mayor’s office, and Mr. JJ Laurel, formerly from DSWS and now assigned to Road Management Authority (RMA), to provide insights into the scheme.

Lastly, Cuenco urged the Office of the acting mayor to conduct interviews, investigations, and evaluations of DSWS and PWD-Unit personnel, or any executive staff involved in the matter.

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TAGS: Cebu City, government, politics

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