Mayor Junjun Binay (left, in white), surrounded by tearful supporters, hugs his father Vice President Jejomar Binay before leaving the Makati City Hall on Wednesday. Mayor Binay stepped down following the suspension order of the Ombudsman (MNS photo)

Mayor Junjun Binay (left, in white), surrounded by tearful supporters, hugs his father Vice President Jejomar Binay before leaving the Makati City Hall on Wednesday. Mayor Binay stepped down following the suspension order of the Ombudsman (MNS photo)

MANILA, Aug 20 (Mabuhay) – An official working for Makati City acting mayor Romulo Peña on Thursday said more than 900 senior citizens receiving benefits from the city government could not be found in their addresses.

Makati Action Center chief Arthur Cruto said the findings are the result of a three-week, house-to-house investigation in two barangays in Makati. Cruto’s testimony is the latest anomaly being investigated by the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee, which is focusing on alleged corruption committed by former Makati mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay.

The BLU Card program for senior citizens provides various perks and privileges to the city’s senior citizens such as free birthday cakes, groceries, maintenance medicines, movie passes and cash gifts. The program started under the administration of then Mayor Binay and continued under his son, suspended Makati Mayor Junjun Binay.

Cruto said the result of a three-week house-to-house investigation revealed that 40% to 52% percent of the beneficiaries in two of Makati’s smallest barangays – Kasilawan and Pinagkaisahan – were non-existent.

In Kasilawan, 1,095 beneficiaries were listed in the records of the Makati Social Welfare Department. However, after the audit, only 660 of them were located while the remaining 435 were not found in the addresses stated in the city’s records.

In Pinagkaisahan, Cruto said there were 938 senior citizens listed in the records, 449 of whom were located and 489 were not found in the addresses in the records.

A total of 924 senior citizens could not be found in just the two barangays. Makati has 30 barangays.

Cruto said the validation was done by comparing the lists from the Makati Social Welfare Department, the voters’ list of the Commission on Elections, and the list of deceased persons from the Makati civil registry.

Atty. Rico Quicho, the vice president’s spokesperson for political affairs, said he discovered prior to today’s hearing that the basis of the latest allegation against the Binays was an audit on the two barangays.

He said the findings, which was exposed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday, were sweeping as there are about 30 barangays in the city.

Quicho said the process of verification and purging of ineligible card holders were actually ongoing. Under the program, senior citizens must receive the benefits personally.

“Mayroon dito yung BLU card nila is on hold dahil either may mga reklamo or may mga anomaly na nangyayari,” he said.

“Merong yung BLU card nila, voided na, meaning pinawalang bisa na so tinanggal na sila sa master list. So itong proseso na to, itong tinatawag nating verification and vetting process, sana inintindi muna ni Senator Trillanes bago siya nagpapahayag.”(MNS)