MANILA, Philippines – Acting Makati Mayor Romulo Peña promised continued benefits to senior citizens and transparency in government processes as he laid out his reform plans for the city, almost two weeks into his 6-month tenure as acting chief executive.
Peña led the flag ceremony at the Makati City Hall on Monday, July 13, his first as acting mayor since he took over the top post from suspended Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr on July 1.
In a speech before city hall employees and supporters, Peña outlined his plans to continue improving the local government’s services for the senior citizens of the city.
These include free medicine and delivery straight to the senior citizens’ homes; free consultations with doctors and nurses; increased pensions; and the continuation of the city’s free birthday cake program.
Peña also said he plans to provide insurance for the officials of the city hall and the barangays.
These proposals, however, will need to be approved by the city council – most of whom are supporters of suspended Mayor Binay – but Peña expressed confidence that the council will be amenable to the planned reforms.
Peña’s announcement on Monday was meant to allay earlier concerns that the change in leadership in the city would affect the many privileges that Makati’s senior citizens currently enjoy.
Makati City has more than 65,000 senior citizens registered at the city’s Social Welfare Department. All of them are members of the BLU card program – launched in 2002 when now-Vice President Jejomar Binay was mayor – which entitles them to a list of benefits and privileges. (READ: Why Makati seniors want Junjun Binay in city hall)
Peña also denied reports that he was stopping the implementation of basic services and programs for Makati residents.
“Kung meron akong ipapatigil, ito ang pang-aabuso ng kapangyarihan,” Peña added. (If there’s one thing that I would put a stop to, it’s the abuse of power.)
Transparent bidding process
Peña also said that he would continue the program of giving out free birthday cakes for senior citizens, but added that he would ensure that it would “no longer be tainted by controversy.”
The birthday cakes became the subject of controversy in August 2014, after lawyer Renato Bondal accused Binay and his father, former Makati mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay, of overpricing the cakes.
Bondal claimed the cakes were bought at P1,000, but the city government said they were only bought at P306.75 each.
On Monday, Peña said the city government is already looking for a new supplier for the cakes.
The bidding process would be “transparent,” with a monitor set up at the city hall lobby and representatives from various sectors invited to monitor the process, Peña added.
But Makati City councilor Marie Alethea Casal-Uy questioned the proposal, saying the contract for the supply of the cakes has already been bidded out last June 2.
“If the contract has already been bidded out last June 2, why do we have to change it?” she asked.
She added, “There’s a bidding process that we have to go through and we want to follow the process.” – Rappler.com