Margot questions additional P9K cash aid for fire victims
CEBU CITY BUDGET HEARINGS
A proposal to give fire victims an additional P9,000 worth of financial assistance starting next year was met with skepticism by the Cebu City Council’s committee on budget and finance.
During yesterday’s last day of a series of budget hearings for the proposed P6.3 billion 2018 annual budget, the committee found the proposal to be too much considering that qualified fire victims are already given an increased P20,000 financial assistance from the original amount of P10,000 just this year.
According to Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO) head Nagiel Bañacia, aside from the P20,000, they planned to give a P3,000 monthly rental subsidy for three months to fire victims in the city.
“Our justification is number one, we will no longer be using schools as relocation sites so there will be no disruption of classes and we no longer have to repair classrooms. We want to do away with the old system of camp management,” he explained.
At the same time, he said this will give the city more time to properly rebuild or reblock fire sites as victims will no longer be allowed to have makeshift homes near their burnt homes.
Bañacia’s plan which translates to about P30 million will form part of CCDRRMO’s P55 million budget proposal for relief and recovery next year.
CCDRRMO’s total budget for 2018 is P305.4 million which is the mandated five percent of the city’s total annual budget.
However, Councilor Margarita Osmeña, head of the committee on budget and finance, questioned the proposal’s viability.
“Isn’t it enough that we give them P20,000 to manage to do whatever? We can use the money to build something more permanent like an evacuation center,” she said.
Bañacia explained that currently, even when the city establishes temporary evacuation centers in schools or barangay sports complexes where there is water, comfort rooms, and even packed meals for three days, some families still refuse to stay there.
But Osmeña stood pat that the city should not support
these fire victims when they are being choosy by giving them even more financial assistance especially if the city had no way of making sure that the money will really be used by them for rent.
Mayor Tomas Osmeña disagreed with Councilor Osmeña in a talk with reporters, Monday.
The mayor said that fire victims should be given the freedom to use the money that will be given to them as assistance by the city.
“So what if they don’t use it for rental? It’s for them. We give it to them in case they pay rental. Why will we sue them if they don’t use it for rental?” he told reporters yesterday.
“These people are vic- tims. Let’s just give them money. If they want to play tong-its (a rummytype card game) with it, that’s their money. Let them establish their own priority,” he added.
Aside from the additional financial aid for fire victims, the CCDRRMO is also setting aside P91.6 million for its quick response fund.
Other proposals in- clude disaster response and rescue equipment (P28 million), medical equipment, life saving and monitors for ambulances (P2 million), citywide early warning system (P10 million), and recovery and rehabilitation infrastructure (P28.6 million).
The CCDRRMO was the last City Hall office that presented its budget proposal for next year.
According to Councilor Osmeña, they will now be working on the final budget that will then be presented to the entire Cebu City Council.
She hoped to already introduce the final approved budget during the council’s next regular session on November 7.