Seniors spent aid for meds; indifferent to pols’ presence
Barely a few hours after they received their P2,000 cash assistance from City Hall, some senior citizens already spent it all for their needs like medicine.
“Even if I’m not married, the money that I received was used for my medicine and part of it was given to my grandchildren,” said Florita Arcipe, a 64-year-old retired government employee of Barangay Sambag I, Cebu City.
Arcipe bought maintenance medicines for her heart ailment and paid part of the utility bills of a relative’s house where she’s staying. Upon arriving at the Katangkungan Sports Complex, she wondered where the cash aid was distributed.
“The barangay captain (Jerry Guardo) was there shaking the hands of everybody who came in,” she said in Cebuano. Guardo wore green and yellow Team Guardo shirt as he greeted people.
“Well we could not also avoid that some people have doubts about why they distribute the money since the election is coming,” Arcipe said.
She said the cash doleout from City Hall won’t influence whom she will be voting for in the barangay elections.
“I will choose who deserves my vote, someone who has the passion and can be trusted,” she said.
Another beneficiary, was 78-year-old cigarette vendor Esmeralda Fernandez of bBarangay Kamagayan. She used the money to buy food and medicines for her husband, who has a lung ailment.
“His medicines are very expensive and I only earn a little,” Fernandez told Cebu Daily News.
Fernandez helps collect garbage in the evening for P50 a day.
The cash dole which she got after 10 minutes of waiting supplements her monthly income of P1,500.
“I did not see any person there running for the barangay elections, I just saw people from the municipal hall,” she added.
Distribution of the cash assistance to the 59,600 senior citizens is almost complete. Ester Concha, head of the Department of Social Welfare and Services, said P4,000 will be given to the seniors in December.
Among those who objected to the manner on how the cash aid was distributed was former Cebu City mayor and congress man Tomas Osmeña. “The people should see for themselves that this is what they are doing. He (Rama) is abusing, using City Hall funds to his advantage. And he is flaunting it before his constituents,” Osmeña said.
Osmeña said the setup which allowed Team Rama candidates to give out priority numbers caused anxiety among some seniors who supported his Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) camp.
“But I’m glad that all these are being pointed out in public. It’s all a matter of fairness. A matter of using the seniors. I feel it’s very distasteful. It’s a way of terrorizing them (elderly),” he said.
Osmeña said Rama’s refusal to give out copies of the seniors master list to BO-PK-allied barangay captains is suspicious and was done to prevent transparency.
“It’s easy to implement a ghost payroll. There is no list. He (Rama) says that you just have to trust him when he can’t even be trusted. We all know he is not honest anyway,” the former mayor said.
In the absence of a copy of the seniors master list, Osmeña said there is no way for barangay captains to determine if all those listed were legitimate recipients.
Rama denied that he furnished copies of the seniors master list to his allies.
He reasoned that since the distribution was a City Hall affair, only the designated department heads were allowed to oversee the distribution. With Chief of Reporters Doris C. Bongcac
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