By Jel Santos
The local government unit (LGU) of Makati City allotted P440.94 million this year for programs and benefits intended for about 85,000 senior citizens registered under the city’s Blu Card program, Mayor Abigail “Abby” Binay revealed on Wednesday.
The amount, she said, constitutes almost a third of the P1.37-billion budget for the Social Welfare sub-sector, which is 13.72 percent of the P9.98-billion total budget allocation for the Social Services sector comprising Health, Education and Social Welfare.
“We have made sure there will be enough funding for a whole year of timely delivery of unequaled benefits and services to our senior Makatizens,” the mayor said in a statement.
According to the Makati LGU, the unique privileges enjoyed by Blu Card members are cash gifts given twice a year, P100,000 for centenarians, unlimited free entrance in Makati cinemas, free leisure trips, and a host of other freebies including birthday cakes, golden wedding anniversary cakes, salon and spa services, and cultural shows. “The city also hosts a welcome party for new senior citizens.”
Binay said of the P440.94-million budget for the Blu Card program, the city has allotted P331.7 million for the cash gifts and one-time Centenarian cash gift; P43 million for free movies; P44.2 million for free cakes on birthdays and golden wedding anniversaries; P3.8 million for Lakbay Saya; P6 million for cultural and theatrical presentations; P985,000 for free salon and spa services; P956,000 for the welcome party for new Blu card members; and P6 million for the burial assistance of P3,000 given to the family of a Blu |Card member upon his or her demise.
“All these perks under the Blu Card are over and above the quality health care the city is providing elderly residents of Makati, as well as opportunities for personal growth and livelihood,” she said.
Under the Yellow Card program, the LGU said senior citizens are entitled to free outpatient and diagnostic services, subsidized hospitalization, and free medicines including the monthly supply of maintenance drugs for hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and other ailments associated with old age. “Those needing dialysis treatment are able to avail themselves of unlimited free dialysis sessions at Ospital ng Makati and private facilities through outsourcing. Hospice care is also provided to bedridden and terminally ill elderly patients.”
The LGU is urging elderly residents to pursue higher education through a scholarship program with the University of Makati and public senior high schools, and granting incentives to those who are able to graduate from senior high school, college and graduate school. Employment opportunities also await those who are still fit to work through regular job fairs conducted by the city hall as well as the upcoming Makati Subway, which is projected to employ around 10,000 residents.
On the other hand, other major Social Welfare programs being subsidized by the LGU include the Makati Universal Health Insurance with P70 million allocated for enrolment of indigent families with PhilHealth ng Masa; Lingkod Bayan Caravan that delivers various services to the barangays, P16.8 million; Disaster Relief Assistance, P10.5 million; and Aid to Individuals and Families in Crisis Situations, P9.9 million.
Under the Blu Card program, Makati LGU said senior citizens aged 60 to 89 get cash gifts ranging from P3,000 to P5,000 per year. Last year, upon the recommendation of the mayor, the City Council passed City Ordinance No. 2019-A-023 granting P10,000 in cash gift to Blu cardholders between 90-99 years old, and from age 101 years for as long as they live.
To date, data showed that 59 centenarians have been given a one-time P100,000 cash gift since 2012, through City Ordinance 2012-099.