Aid compromise

November 01,2016 - 07:41 PM


It’s still a month and nearly two weeks away and yet the scheduled hearing for the amendment of the ordinance on senior citizens aid had already generated some concerns from seniors who were unable to vote in this year’s elections.

That’s because one of the proposed amendments of Councilor Sisinio Andales requires seniors to have voted in this year’s elections to qualify as a recipient of the city’s annual P12,000 cash aid. Another requirement is for them not to have missed three consecutive tranches of cash aid distribution whose schedule for now is quite irregular due to the change in administration.

The Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA), which came out with their own proposals, said these amendments proposed by Andales need further study though initial indications showed that a lot of the city’s 67,000 plus seniors are against the amendments.

The OSCA amendments proposed early this year include prohibiting seniors from issuing authorization letters to their proxies who will receive their cash aid on their behalf, reducing to five days the extension given to those who failed to receive their cash aid on the scheduled date and announcing the date of cash distribution two to three days in advance instead of setting it on the last date of the month.

All of these amendments are focused on the single goal of rationalizing the list of beneficiaries, which have ballooned from 25,000 to 67,000 plus last year. Like the elections, the increase in the number of beneficiaries stems from the lure of cash given tax free by the city government.

Problem is the city can only give so much and it would be hard to determine if these seniors, including the bedridden and the dirt-poor, have really lived in the city or like ghost employees, only surface on the appointed cash distribution date to get the money that should go to those who have lived and worked in the city for sometime.

Interestingly enough why did Andales, a Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) member, proposed that beneficiaries who only voted in this year’s elections should qualify for cash aid? If anything, the BO-PK bloc in the council previously proposed that only those who have consistently voted since in the early 2000s should qualify as recipients and not recent transplants, some of whom drive to the distribution venue in cars and can afford to forego their cash aid.

Lest Team Rama accuse their BO-PK counterparts of politicizing the cash aid distribution ordinance for seniors, they should remember that it was their leader former mayor Michael Rama who doubled the cash aid for seniors from an affordable P5,000 a year each to P12,000 a year in order to win his re-election bid.

That said, we hope that the parties on all sides manage to work out any amendments that take into consideration both the welfare of their recipients who are in their sunset years and the city’s current fiscal situation.

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TAGS: BO-PK, Cebu City, Councilor Sisinio Andales, Senior Citizens’ Affairs

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