Senior citizens in Makati City on Monday appealed to members of the City Council to immediately approve the 2019 executive budget as they expressed their concern over the adverse impact of the delay on benefits and privileges provided to them by the city.
The budget proposal has been pending with the City Council since its first reading on Oct. 24 last year, as members of the opposition bloc allied with former mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. continue to hold its approval in abeyance.
Consequently, major programs and new initiatives pushed by present administration for the benefit of the elderly cannot be implemented.
Junjun is running against his sister incumbent Mayor Abigail Binay in the mayoralty race this coming May elections.
Rogelio Villamarin, chairman of the Barangay Council of Senior Citizens of Brgy. Pembo said senior citizens of Makati will surely be dismayed if their benefits were suspended because of the delay in budget approval.
“The benefits provided to us by the city are so good—from free cakes, free medicines and hospital care, even the education of the youth—all of these are unequalled and irreplaceable. Governance [of the city] has been going excellently, but now there is trouble,” he said.
Anita Bay, BCSC chairperson of Brgy. Guadalupe Viejo said that she and fellow senior citizens throughout Makati have been looking forward to enhanced benefits included by the administration of Mayor Binay in the 2019 executive budget.
“We really look forward to the cash incentives and projects for seniors because they give us joy; even the small things make us so happy. We hope they won’t deprive us of that,” Bay said.
She pointed out that being “very emotional,” senior citizens may take it hard if they do not receive their benefits on time. “Some of us may take it hard that their health may be affected.”
BCSC Chairman Salvador Estorque of Brgy. Sta. Cruz also assailed the delay in budget approval, saying that many indigent senior citizens in his community expect to receive their incentives on time.
“It is not right for them to hold up the budget. The incentive means so much to us, especially in our barangay where many indigent senior citizens expect to receive the incentive,” he said.
“They should not compromise the welfare of senior citizens and all residents of Makati. How can the Mayor and the city run without a budget? How can proposed projects be implemented without a budget?” said Domingo Castrilleon, a senior resident of Brgy. Guadalupe.
Makati seniors are also anticipating the prompt approval of the additional P10,000 cash gift for Blu Card holders aged 90 to 99 years, which was proposed by Mayor Abby last November. Draft Ordinance No. 2018-082 granting the said benefit has been shelved at the Committee level since then.
Fernando Mirabales, a 91-year-old resident of Guadalupe Viejo, together with his wife, Josephine Mirabales, 86, expressed their disappointment over the majority’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for the said proposal.
“We hope they will approve it to allow senior citizens like us to enjoy the gift in the little time we have left. I might not recognize money anymore when I am almost 100,” he said.
Aside from running their own sari-sari store, the sprightly senior couple said they enjoyed watching free movies at least twice a week at a nearby high-end mall, and free salon and spa services once a month. The said benefits are among the privileges enjoyed by Blu Card holders in Makati.
Miguel Simolde, 63-year old resident of Brgy. Poblacion said “Makati is rich so why can’t they grant the additional cash gift for those in their 90s? It would mean so much to them as they can no longer work.”
He also urged Mayor Binay to “keep up the good work” and thanked her for her support to the elderly. “We have no complaints with the administration of Mayor Abby. We are thankful that she is our current mayor.”
According to a report from the city Budget Department, projects and activities slated for the first quarter of the year that cannot be implemented include the Welcome to the Tribe Party for new senior citizens.
Anita Bay said it was regrettable that the incoming batch of new senior citizens of Makati might not be able to enjoy the delightful raffle prizes and banquet experienced by last year’s batch. She recalled that in last year’s party, cellphones were among the prizes raffled off to participants.
Currently, the city government provides over 80,000 senior citizens numerous benefits beyond what the state law requires, including bi-annual cash incentive ranging from P3,000 to P5,000. Other perks they enjoy include free movies, salon and spa services, free maintenance medicines and other pharmaceutical products, free hospitalization, Lakbay Saya free field trips, Pamaskong Handog gift bags, and many more.
Under Section 323 of the local government code, if the Sanggunian fails to enact such ordinance after ninety (90) days from the beginning of the fiscal year, the ordinance authorizing the appropriations of the preceding year shall be deemed reenacted and shall remain in force and effect until the ordinance authorizing the proposed appropriations is passed by the council concerned.