DSWD-6 warns public against fixers

By Jennifer P. Rendon

Ever notice the long queue of applicants at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Region 6’s assistance center at GT Mall in Molo, Iloilo City?

For several days, the agency observed an unexpected influx of clients wanting to avail of its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS).

“It’s a first in recent years,” Atty. May Rago-Castillo said noting that “the number of clients has always been manageable over the years.”

Given the circumstance, the agency is not discounting the possibility that there could be fixers behind the surge in AICS clients.

AICS is part of the DSWD’s protective services for the poor, marginalized and vulnerable/disadvantaged individuals for medical, educational, burial and transportation.

It has been implemented by DSWD for decades, as part of its technical assistance and resource augmentation support to local government units and other partners.

The agency could usually accommodate 100 to 200 clients at the AICS Action Center in GT Mall.

But lately, personnel noticed that some persons were already lining up as early as 2 a.m. to avail of AICS.

By 7 a.m., the queue of clients already filled the hallway leading to the AICS center.

Because of this, DSWD-6 issued a warning on Thursday, July 6, stressing that the agency has no room for fixers.

“Cases will be filed against them if ever arrested,” Atty. Carmelo Nochete, DSWD-6b regional director, said.

The warning also came on the heels of the arrest of a person in a police-led entrapment operation recently.

The person is believed to be a fixer in the agency’s AICS implementation.

“Wala sang lugar ang mga fixers sa DSWD. Ang maghimo sang amo sini nga pang biktima sa mga tawo paga kasuhan sang amon ahensya,”  Nochete said.

A criminal case was already filed against the alleged fixer.

Under the law, a fixer is defined as any individual whether or not officially involved in the operation of a government office or agency who has access to people working therein, and whether or not in collusion with them, facilitates the speedy completion of transactions for pecuniary gain or any other advantage or consideration.

Fixers, if proven guilty, shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment, fine, or both fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.

For those fixing and/or collusion with fixers in consideration of economic and/or other gain or advantage, administrative liability and criminal liability of dismissal from the service, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and forfeiture of retirement benefits and imprisonment of one year to six years with a fine of not less than P500,000.00, but not more than Two million pesos.

“Those who are seeking to avail of the services are already in crisis situation because of either need for medication, hospitalization, burial or other crisis situation. To take advantage of their situation when they are at the lowest points of their lives is intolerable and contemptible,” Nochete said.