IT IS nice to hear that the City government of Davao is increasing (?) its benefits for senior citizens. 

     But wait, increasing the benefits like the amount that the seniors in the city are receiving? Or is it merely expanding the coverage of the beneficiaries? We are raising these questions because as far as we know as of now the amount that seniors with ages from 65 and above are already receiving P1,500 annually. And according to second district councilor Ralph Abella, the principal proponent of the amendment, the benefits, meaning the amount to be given, is being hiked under the new ordinance. How come when it is still the same – P1,500.00 for one whole year?

     But does the amended ordinance expand the coverage of the number of beneficiaries? Yes, of course. Yes, it increases the number since, according to Abella, upon the effectivity of the ordinance, the seniors whose ages range from 60 to 64 will now be included in the list of those who will be given the financial assistance.

     Unfortunately, the amount which is for one whole year is too minimal that if it were a take-home pay of a worker, it cannot even take him or her home upon collection. Like in the case of pay-out for seniors residing in the remotest of barangays in the city we know for a fact that government employees tasked to release the money for the beneficiaries find ways to have the pay-out conducted in a barangay that is convenient for them to go to and return to their respective agencies in the city proper. Thus, there were places which were converted into clusters and the most accessible of the clustered barangays for the government personnel is designated the pay-out center. Still the other barangays to be served by the pay-out group hardly had any passable road. Or if there are, the roads are hardly passable by motor vehicles except the so-called single motorbikes which normally charge very exorbitant fare due to the difficult situation of the roads, if you can even call them that.

     One example is when a senior is residing in sitio Taloytoy and he/she has to collect his/her financial assistance in either Barangay Paquibato or Malabog, the travel by single motorbike would cost roughly P250 back and forth. If cost of lunch is to be factored the possibility is some P500 is already deducted from the financial assistance. And it is even likely that from the time the concerned senior citizen was advised that on this date he/she will get the financial aid, the same beneficiary suddenly gets the guts to procure some household items on credit with the aid release as payment guaranty.

     In other words, the beneficiary now has second thought of going back home immediately because he/she knows his/her creditors are already waiting at the door of his/her house..

     What we could not understand though is that Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in the middle of her campaign, was proudly saying that she will be leaving Davao City to assume her position as Vice President of the Philippines with zero debt. Meaning, all debts incurred by the city before and during the lady mayor’s term have already been fully settled.

     Meanwhile, Cebu City which like Davao, is also one of the richest cities in the Philippines and has not banded around as one local government that is free from debt, has long been giving financial assistance to its senior citizens in the amount of P4,000 annually and with a Christmas bonus at that. 

     Then how come not one of the Davao City councilors ever thought of increasing the financial assistance to an amount that can really be of help to the seniors especially at this time in their lives when they are confronted with various physical maladies attendant to the aging process?

    Yes indeed, how come they haven’t even considered the amount of assistance if the city is  blessed with so huge revenues more than enough to set it free from the burden of amortizations?

     May be we can recommend to the next City Council to again look into the amended ordinance and amend it further to at least give meaning to what Councilor Abella calls “hiked financial aid.” 

     And since the councilor did not seek reelection and the one taking his place is his wife Marissa, then she can probably assume what could have been Ralph’s primary responsibility.


Source: Mindanao Times (