Makati exec says findings on beneficiaries flawed, questionable | Inquirer News
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Makati exec says findings on beneficiaries flawed, questionable

/ 07:12 PM August 21, 2015

The findings presented by the Makati City action center before the Senate that the city government lost P370 million due to questionable beneficiaries were based on a “flawed and questionable auditing procedure,” a city official said on Friday.

Ryan Barcelo, head of the Makati City social welfare development, said the allegations of Arthur Cruto, MAC officer in charge, lacked documentary evidence.

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Cruto claimed that based on his initial audit of the BLU card program, 31,280 senior citizens out of 68,000 in Makati City had questionable qualifications as beneficiaries.

According to Cruto’s findings, the senior citizens are either unqualified for not being registered voters, a requirement of the city, or cannot be found in their listed address. Some of those in the list are already dead but continue to receive benefits.

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Barcelo said Cruto’s staff simply checked the homes of the senior citizens and marked their names with an X if they were not around.

“Magkaiba ho ang umalis ng bahay sa namatay. Hindi po nila ito inalam,” Barcelo said in a statement.

The audit for the BLU card program, ordered by Acting Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña, was still ongoing but Cruto presented his initial findings before the Senate on Thursday.

Part of Cruto’s findings showed that only 54 percent or 36,720 senior citizens were qualified under the program. On average, the benefits amount to P11,750 a year for each qualified recipient.

To qualify for the BLU card program, one must be at least 60 years old, a registered voter, and a bona fide Makati City resident. Benefits include a birthday cake, cash gift, groceries for Christmas, free maintenance medicines and free movies.

“There should have been what we call a ‘collateral interview.’ They should have asked where the senior citizen was and not simply put an X beside the person’s name when they found out the person was not around. There are a number of reasons a person is not in his house at a certain time,” Barcelo said.

He added: “Kwestyonable ang proseso ng kuno ‘audit’ na ginawa ng grupo ni Cruto. Hindi malinaw kung paano nila itinanong kung nasaan ang mga senior citizen. Hindi malinaw kung gumawa sila ng ‘collateral interview’ sa mga kamag-anak at kapitbahay ng senior citizen. Hindi din malinaw kung anong ‘validation process’ ang ginawa nila para talagang walang duda na masasabi na wala na ang senior citizen sa Makati address nito.”

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Barcelo said MSWD strictly followed procedures in checking reports that a cardholder had moved to another address outside Makati City or died.

He added that senior citizens qualified for the program were required to be present during their application.

Barcelo said MSWD followed a validation procedure prior to the removal of a senior citizen’s name from the list. The process includes the submission of a death certificate and verification by MSWD upon receiving reports that a beneficiary has died.

“Hindi maaring tanggalin sa listahan ng BLU card program ang pangalan ng senior citizen na naiulat lamang na namatay na habang walang naipapakita o naisusumiteng death certificate nito sa MSWD. Kapag may ulat na natatanggap ang MSWD na ang isang senior citizen ay namatay na, bibisitahin ng empleyado ng MSWD ang pamilya ng ‘namatayan’ at kukumpirmahin ang nasabing ulat. Kung kumpirmadong pumanaw na nga ang senior citizen, tutulungan ang kanyang pamilya na makakuha ng burial assistance kung hindi pa nila nakukuha ito. Pagkatapos nito lamang tatanggalin ang pangalan niya sa BLU card program,” he said.

Barcelo also said senior citizens who were no longer on the list of the city’s registered voters at the time of audit could not just be removed from the program.

“Hindi maaring sabihin ni Cruto na ‘disqualified’ sa Blu card program ang mga senior citizen na hindi nila makita ang pangalan sa voters’ list and Commission on Elections,” he said.

“Hindi maipagkakaila ng kahit sino man na dahil sa katandaan at limitasyon sa paggalaw ay mayroong mga senior citizen na hindi na nakakaboto at natanggal na rin ang pangalan sa voters’ list ng Comelec. Kung gayon, natural lang na mayroong mga BLU cardholders na wala na ang pangalan sa voters’ list ng Comelec pero hindi ibig sabilihin nito na ‘disqualified’ sila sa programa o hindi sila rehistrado sa Comelec noong nag-apply sila sa BLU card program,” he added.

Barcelo also admitted there were cases where relatives wouldn’t admit that the cardholder had died in order to continue receiving benefits, but he said MSWD did not tolerate such acts. Frances Mangosing/RC

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TAGS: Arthur Cruto, benefits, BLU card program, Kid Peña, Makati City Action Center, Makati City social welfare development, Ryan Barcelo, senior citizens
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