Pensioners’ woes
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - June 14, 2019 - 12:00am

Last Monday, June 10, hundreds of elderly GSIS pensioners in varying stages of failing physical ability and health trooped to the Landbank branch in Sagkahan district in Tacloban City, presumably the bank's main office in Region 8, to get their new ATM cards. It was the first banking day since Saturday, June 8, when their pensions came but could no longer be accessed using their old cards.

Were the pensioners not notified about the status of their cards that they would suddenly come in droves to overwhelm the poor staff at Landbank Sagkahan? As one of the Philippines' five biggest banks, I would presume Landbank dutifully announced the expiration of the old cards and the availability of the new ones.

But maybe the better question to ask regarding the deluge of elderly, sickly, and infirm pensioners at Landbank Sagkahan, who had to climb over one another to check if their names are in a single alphabetical list outside the premises is whether the notices were sufficiently aired, efficiently disseminated, and properly targeted at their appropriate audiences.

The question is asked because if they were, then there would have been no deluge of frail bodies clinging on to whatever was left of their human dignities to try and get their measly monthly pension from their government. How heart-rending to see people who served their government for years endure hell just to get a few thousand pesos a month.

Whoever was in charge of the notices must have failed to consider that most of the sick and elderly do not have cellphones, in case the notices were on Facebook or the like. Print ads offer very limited exposure and few newspapers make it to the rural areas. Many pensioners are now also hard of hearing, so radio and TV are practically of no use as a notification medium.

The best way would have been individual written notices mailed to each pensioner. Now I could be wrong, but I think this mode of notification was not resorted to. Perhaps in this world of doing things with the push of a mere button or key, the one in charge felt it beneath his or her dignity to go back to paper and use the mail.

Now, speaking of today's world of technological ease and magic, it is indeed disconcerting for Landbank to require its pensioners to go and claim their new cards from one branch when it has a number of other branches that are nearer and more convenient for the pensioners to claim their new cards from.

For example, there is a Landbank branch in Carigara. So why must hundreds of pensioners from Carigara and the nearby towns of Capoocan, Barugo, Tunga, and Jaro be made to go to Tacloban when Carigara is much nearer to them? Maybe soon-to-be pensioner Rodrigo Roa Duterte should take an interest in the plight of pensioners now, lest he too suffer as they did.

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