Senior citizens in Makati City have praised Mayor Abigail Binay for her initiative to implement new guidelines in the release of the bi-annual cash gift for Blu Card holders.
In a dialog held at City Hall on Monday, the chairs and other officials of Barangay Councils of Senior Citizens unanimously agreed that the previous system was prone to abuse and misuse, saying the new guidelines, were “working just fine.”
Binay explained the decision of the city government to be more strict, saying they added the conduct of home visits “in the spirit of fairness and we want to get rid of the ‘palakasan’ [patronage] system.”
She also emphasized that the current implementing guidelines were thoroughly studied prior to their approval, and recalled how the elderly leaders were given a step-by-step guide on the process of cash incentive distribution.
“Our objective was to protect both the distributor and the receiver,” the mayor added.
Binay said her administration has, in fact, been very accommodating of the needs and requests of the elderly.
Last June 2017, the Makati Health Development Council approved the extension of the validity period of the Yellow Card pushed by Mayor Abby to spare them of the burden of having to renew annually.
Under the new policy, lifetime membership is granted to senior citizens below 80 years old who can present updated tax declarations, and to those 80 and above who have been Yellow Card holders for the past six years. For those not qualified in the said criteria, they may apply for three-year validity which requires them to be registered voters of Makati and actual residents.
In fact, she added, the city government granted the request of Blu Card members for an option to receive a check, instead of the usual cash for the said incentive. Even though the processing of checks was tedious and required more paperwork, the city government accommodated said request.
“Rest assured that we will always have the best interests of our seniors at heart,” she said.
The barangay councils represented at the dialog included East Rembo, Poblacion, Dasmariñas Village, Comembo, Rizal, Pitogo, Guadalupe Viejo, Guadalupe Nuevo, South Cembo, Pio del Pilar, Sta. Cruz, Pinagkaisahan, Pembo, Bel-Air, San Lorenzo, Olympia, Magallanes, Palanan, San Isidro, Southside, Northside, Tejeros and Kasilawan.
At present, the senior citizens of Makati under the BLU Card program are entitled to cash gifts ranging from P3,000 to P5,000 a year, based on age brackets. Since 2012, 51 centenarians have been awarded with P100,000 cash gift. Of these, 26 were recognized during the current administration.
Under the free medicines program covered by the Yellow Card, senior citizens are provided maintenance medicines for various common ailments for free. Those aged 70 and older and bedridden elderly have their monthly supply of medicines delivered right to their homes.
From January to September this year, 248 senior citizens were given mobility aid as follows: 150 wheelchairs; 33 quadcanes; 13 walkers; 10 crutches; and 42 canes.
Other privileges accorded to Makati seniors include unlimited free entrance to premier cinemas in Makati, free tours in Metro Manila and other parts of the country through ‘Lakbay Saya’, free salon and spa services, cakes on their birthday and golden wedding anniversary, and free medical care/hospitalization.
Moreover, they are exempted from the city’s number coding scheme, and upon their death, their beneficiaries are entitled to P3,000 burial assistance.
A number of the elderly leaders present pointed out that reverting to the old rules would again open the use of authorization forms to abuse and misuse.
They cited instances in the past where some Blu Card holders were deprived of the right to enjoy the incentive because a child, grandchild or another family member had claimed the money without their knowledge or permission.
Anita Bay, head of BCSC of Brgy. Guadalupe Viejo, also thanked the mayor for showing sensitivity and concern for the elderly.
She mentioned the mayor’s plan to organize a monthly ballroom dancing event to promote socialization among all senior citizens of Makati. “Such an activity helps us live longer, and makes us senior citizens happy.”
Bay said it was quite clear to her that Mayor Binay has a vision for senior citizens of Makati, and that is to improve and elevate the quality of life for them.