THE distribution of financial assistance to senior citizens in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City has been temporarily suspended following the initial commotion in the village complex on Friday, May 22, 2020.
As this developed, the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (Osca) will now take over the giving out of cash aid to the elderly.
Osca executive director Jeffrey Ocampo said the suspension of the distribution was due to the chaos that ensued as the village’s elderly rushed to the barangay complex to claim their aid without observing strict social distancing.
“We suspended the distribution due to the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) protocol issued by the Mayor (Edgardo Labella), which was not followed,” he continued.
On Friday morning, senior citizens flocked to the village complex to get their financial assistance after the point persons in the barangay were not able to locate some of the beneficiaries.
Ocampo said the City Government is expected to resume the distribution on the afternoon of May 24 or May 25.
Meanwhile, village chief Michael Gacasan has blamed the Mayor’s Information and Liaison Office (Milo) for the incident and for not coordinating with the barangay.
He said the barangay officials are willing to take over the distribution to help ensure peace and order.
“If ever given a chance, we will do it,” Gacasan added.
Ocampo said his office, together with the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO), is now validating the beneficiaries.
They are crossing out names of those who have already received the aid to make it easier for them to locate the remaining beneficiaries once they will resume the distribution.
Ocampo said staff of the CTO and Osca who are residents of the village have been designated as point persons instead of appointing a barangay official as the main focal person.
He said they will fast-track the house-to-house distribution, adding that at least 1,200 beneficiaries have yet to receive the financial assistance.
CTO officer-in-charge Jerone Castillo said while there is no definite deadline for the distribution, the City Government hopes to complete the distribution in 10 days.
Castillo also emphasized that the City chose focal persons in every barangay who will assist the disbursing officers during the distribution.
“The distribution is made by the City. We sought the assistance of barangay point persons, not Milo, to guide our disbursing officers with the house-to-house distribution,” he said.
Castillo reiterated that there should be no politicking during the distribution of cash aid for the elderly.
“I was clear there will be no Milo involved but barangay point persons. The distribution should not have any political color,” he said.
In the case of Guadalupe, Ocampo said they chose barangay councilor Ben Baculi as the main focal person.
Baculi, according to Gacasan, was under Barug-PDP Laban, the political party of the city’s present administration.
Gacasan said days before May 16, which was the first day of the distribution, the Barangay Council had already agreed on the areas where they will be assigned to assist the disbursing officers.
However, the village chief was surprised to find that what they agreed on was not followed. (JJL)