Senate to tackle 'ghost' senior citizens in blue ribbon hearing

THE alleged P100-million per year racket involving "ghost" senior citizens in Makati City will be up for discussion when the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee resumes its hearings on the alleged anomalies linked to the family of Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday.

In a television interview, Trillanes said 45 percent of the beneficiaries for the Makati City government's programs for senior citizens were either "dead or non-existent."

In a separate interview, the senator said that the "racket" on a "ghost" senior citizens amounted to P100 million per year.

The programs involve the giving of cakes and cash gifts to elderly.

Trillanes said he would provide documents and there will be testimonial from resource persons to prove his allegation.

"Some are just names. Some are illegitimate senior citizens. Some are not residents of Makati. Some are already dead but in the voucher, they were still able to sign," he added.

The subpanel, which has been investigating the corruption allegations against the Binay family for over a year now, will resume its hearing on Thursday.

Joey Salgado, Binay's spokesperson, said Thursday's probe will be Trillanes' another attempt to undermine the exemplary programs and services of Makati.

"The burden is on Senator Trillanes to prove his outlandish conclusion that 45 percent of senior citizen beneficiaries are non-existent. Can he produce actual death certificates and other documents? We doubt it," he said.

"We expect more half-truths and lies in tomorrow's hearings," he added.

Salgado said that under city guidelines, senior citizens are required to personally apply for benefits.

He asserted that those listed as beneficiaries are actual persons who have submitted the required documents and have passed the verification process.

"The city's Social Welfare Department monitors the delivery of cakes. Seniors 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 added.

Salgado accused Trillanes and his cohorts of making "wild and sensational" statements to drum up interest in their inquisition of the Binay family.

"After one year, we cannot really expect Senator Trillanes to be truthful and transparent," (Sunnex)

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