The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) today warned the public and local government executives anew of a syndicate of extortionists and con-men posing as DILG senior officials and supposedly arranging for COVID-19 or emergency relief aid.
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that they have received numerous reports from DILG regional and field offices and some LGUs that they have received calls or texts from con-artists and impostors pretending to be senior DILG officials, himself or his staff, offering to provide COVID-19 assistance and asking for money in return.
“Pinapayuhan po natin ang ating mga LGUs at ang publiko na mag-ingat sa mga walang hiyang mandurugas na sindikato na nagpapakilalang taga DILG at nangingikil ng pera kapalit ng umano'y ayuda,” Malaya said.
“Kahit po ang inyong lingkod ay ilang beses ng ginamit ang pangalan para makapanloko. Kailanman ay hindi tayo nanghihingi ng pera sa kahit sinong Mayor, Vice Mayor, o kapitan kapalit ng serbisyo publiko na binibigay ng DILG,” he added.
In a report to the DILG, Mayor Danilo M. Diamante of Tuburan, Cebu said he received repeated calls from someone who introduced himself as a DILG Undersecretary. The caller asked money from the mayor supposedly to cover for the shipping of 1,500 cavans of rice to be given as assistance to his town. The caller also supposedly instructed Mayor Diamante to pin a certain SB member for alleged involvement in illegal drugs which the latter vehemently denied.
The DILG Spokesperson also received similar reports from DILG CALABARZON Regional Director Ariel O. Iglesia, Mayor Rachel Ubana of Lopez, Quezon, Mayor Nacional V. Mercado of Maasin City, Southern Leyte; and Mayor Melina Requinto of Estancia, Iloilo
“Halos pare-pareho ang istilo ng sindikatong ito. Tatawag at magpakilalang taga DILG, magbibigay kunwari ng tulong na bigas o iba pang suporta ngayong COVID-19, at sa huli ay manghihingi ng pera para sa transportasyon at iba pang gastusin,” Malaya explained.
He said that he has already alerted the Philippine National Police – Crime Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) about this modus operandi and they are already working double time to put these scammers behind bars. The DILG had earlier warned the LGUs and public of similar extortion incidents just last month.
“Kung sinuman sa inyo ang makatanggap ng tawag o texts sa mga taong nagpakilalang ako o sinuman sa mga DILG top officials, magsumbong o makipag-ugnayan po kayo kaagad sa pinakamalapit na police station para mahuli at maparusahan ang mga impostor na ito,” he said.
Malaya clarified that the DILG routes official communications to the DILG regional and field offices and all LGUs via official channels and not through mere texts or calls.
He advised the LGUs to always be cautious and verify first from DILG field when dealing with any person claiming to be connected with the Department.
“Sa mga nasa malalayong munisipyo at kabarangayan, magtungo po kayo kaagad sa pinakamalapit na police station o DILG field office para makasiguro at hindi kayo malinlang ng mga scammer na ito,” he said.