Money-making modus targets senior citizens

A NEW modus operandi, wherein unidentified persons pose as employees of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs to collect money, is targeting senior citizens in Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City.

Merle Garcia of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) said Thursday their office received complaints from five senior citizens, who claimed that the perpetrators, who were wearing DSWD uniforms with identification cards, went to their houses and talked to them about the benefits they could avail from the agency's social pension.

Among the supposed benefits the senior citizens can avail are the P500 monthly allowance, which started November 1; P6,000 quarterly allowance, which will start on January 1, 2017, and free (therapy) sessions if they have any illness like hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, asthma, fracture, and back pain.

However, in order for them to avail of the said benefits, they need to pay a certain amount as registration fee.

Garcia said senior citizens are required to pay P800 while non-senior citizens, P1,000.

The complainants – two from Bacolod City, and one each from Sipalay City, Cauayan and Candoni towns – have paid the fees only to realize later that they have been duped after the perpetrators failed to return to their houses for the supposed sessions.

The complainants have filled out membership forms, which bore the logo of DSWD signed by a certain Ruth Magallanes, department head, and Jhonny Tubban, consultant.

But there is no Magallanes or Tubban in the provincial office of DSWD, Garcia said.

Alarming

Garcia said the incident is “alarming” since many senior citizens have been victimized.

She believed there are still other victims in the city and the province and she urged them to coordinate with their barangay officials and the local police.

They will also coordinate with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), she added.

Newly-installed PSWDO head Elena Serenias said their office is not collecting any money from senior citizens.

She said that beneficiaries of the social pension are identified by the local DSWD office.

They won’t allow this modus to continue, she added.

Meanwhile, Special Agent William de Arca Jr. of NBI-Bacolod District

Office confirmed that one of the victims had filed a complaint the other day.

He said they are tracing the cellphone number of one of the perpetrators.

De Arca added they are also conducting a “record check” on Magallanes and Tubban, whether they exist or if they are using fictitious names.

He also said the perpetrators could be part of a syndicated group.

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