Elderly residents who have long been dead continue to receive doleouts from the Makati City government, a City Hall official told the Senate on Thursday.
Arthur Cruto, head of the Makati City Action Center, said some of the residents who were identified as beneficiaries of the city government’s Blu Card or social welfare program for the elderly turned out to have already passed away but records show they still receive benefits from City Hall.
At the continuation of the hearing of Senate blue ribbon sub-committee on allegedly anomalous transactions under the Binay administration, Cruto said almost half–from 40 to 50 percent–of the senior citizen beneficiaries in two barangay (villages) that were initially audited could no longer be located.
In Barangay Kasilawan, only 660 of the 1,095 senior citizens listed as beneficiaries were located while 439 out of 938 were located in Barangay Pinagkaisahan.
The auditors also found 25 senior citizens listed as living in one house, but only three were accounted for.
There were also welfare beneficiaries who continue to receive cash from City Hall yet they have passed on in 2013.
Based on records, the city government have doled out P11,750 to each of the city’s 68,000 listed elderly residents. The amount is broken down into cash gift (P3,000), birthday cake (P300), Christmas groceries (P1,500), free movie passes (P350) and free medicines (P6,600).
The auditors, however, discovered that only 36,720 or 54 percent of 68,000 listed senior citizens were qualified beneficiaries while the remaining 46 percent or 31,280 were “suspicious.”
Cruto said based on the figures, the auditors estimate that the city government was spending P799 million annually for its senior citizens’ welfare program.
With 31,280 identified as “suspicious,” about P367.5 million was unaccounted for, he added.
Cruto said so far a total of 14 barangay have been audited and also had similar findings. He, however, failed to present the findings on 12 barangay.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee, said the amount Cruto provided is just a projection and cannot be considered as factual.
Pimentel added that the figures provided by Cruto should be backed by strong evidence.
He said the findings cannot be considered factual until after they have completed the audit process.
“That is a projection and there’s basis. If it’s true, that’s such a huge amount. Imagine, that’s P1 million a day and somebody is earning that much, based on the projection [Cruto presented]. As to who designed the scheme, who pocketted the ‘leakage,’ that we have to find out,” the senator noted.
Pimentel said they still need to review the methodology used in the survey as well as the conclusion of Cruto.