Palace to Binay: Pro-poor funds for safety nets, not Viagra

MANILA, Philippines – Who thought of using government funds to buy Viagra for senior citizens? Not us.

This was Malacañang's acerbic response to the allegation of Vice President Jejomar Binay at a provincial sortie on Saturday, July 18, that a third of the beneficiaries of the administration's flagship Conditional Cash Transfer program are not really poor.

"We never used or intend to use government funds to buy Viagra as VP Binay promised to male senior citizens. We will, however, continue to provide the social protection safety nets for our people, be they marginalized families, children, adults, or senior citizens," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Saturday.

Lacierda was referring to the "promise" of false teeth, Viagra, and even adult diapers that Binay reportedly made to senior citizens in Bacolod City on Thursday, July 16.

The Palace official noted that the Asian Development Bank report Binay cited to support his claim on the CCT program is not updated.

Lacierda said the ADB had clarified as early as June 26 – a day after Binay first made the allegation – that the figures the Vice President had cited were based on 2009 data.

ADB Philippine Country Director Richard Bolt had said that the ADB is "confident" the issue "is no longer the case in the ongoing conditional cash transfer program."

Given the weeks-old clarification, Lacierda said: "Is it possible that VP Binay deliberately foisted a lie or he was not informed by his platoon of spokespersons on the ADB's latest response? Not only does it appear that VP Binay and his camp are lying, it also shows the quality of their research leaves much to be desired." Rappler.com