MANILA, Philippines – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV claimed on Wednesday, August 19, that almost half of the elderly registered for Makati City’s programs for senior citizens are “ghost” beneficiaries.
In an interview with Headstart of the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), Trillanes said he discovered that around 45% of the senior citizen beneficiaries, who receive free birthday cakes and other privileges from the city government, were either deceased or non-existent.
”Some do not exist at all. Some are dead. Some are just names,” Trillanes told ANC.
As an example, the senator said there was one beneficiary who passed away in January 2015 but who was still included in the list of beneficaries for June 2015.
“We’ll be exposing the ghost senior citizens…Those listed as dead [yet are] still receiving benefits from the past Makati administration,” added the senator, who was referring to the administration of suspended Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr.
Trillanes said the issue was discovered when elected Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr was sworn as acting mayor following Mayor Binay’s 6-month preventive suspension order.
Peña said he will prioritize ridding city hall of any corrupt practices while he is seated as acting mayor. He also previously announced that the public is free to investigate any of Makati’s city projects.
According to Trillanes, he will be exposing the new findings during the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee’s hearing on the corruption allegations against Mayor Binay, former Makati mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay, and the members of their family on Thursday, August 20.
This latest hearing comes one year since senators started probing into the allegations that the Binay family overpriced several city projects. (TIMELINE: Binay’s plunder case, one year after)
The Binays have denied the accusations and said these are mere attempts to botch VP Binay’s bid for the presidency in 2016.
‘Burden’ is on Trillanes
Joey Salgado, media affairs head of VP Binay’s office, said that the burden of presenting proof for Trillanes’ “outlandish conclusion” lies with the senator.
“Can he produce actual death certificates and other documents? We doubt it. We expect more half-truths and lies in tomorrow’s hearings,” said Salgado in a statement sent to reporters.
“For one year now, Senator Trillanes and his cohorts have been making wild and sensational statements to drum up interest in their inquisition of the Vice President and his family. They want to undermine the exemplary programs and services of Makati,” he said.
“The senator’s latest statement is no different.”
According to Salgado, who used to be the head of the Makati Public Information Office when Mayor Binay was still seated, city guidelines require senior citizens to personally apply for benefits.
“Those listed as beneficiaries are actual persons who have submitted the required documents and have passed the verification process,” he said.
Salgado added that Makati’s Social Welfare Department monitors the delivery of the birthday cakes and the senior citizens are also required to personally receive their cash gifts.
“The office also conducts spot checking to check reports of fraud. It also has a validation process to purge deceased senior citizens from the list,” he said.
Salgado added, “After one year, we cannot really expect Senator Trillanes to be truthful and transparent.” – Rappler.com
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