The Cebu City government will proceed with a bidding in the effort to purchase rice intended for Angkas and motorcycle-for-hire drivers who are now affected by the Supreme Court decision suspending Angkas’ operations nationwide.
Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s executive assistant, Francisco Fernandez, said City Hall will utilize the P15 million from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation to purchase rice, which will soon be distributed to qualified Angkas and motorcycles-for-hire drivers.
This development comes after the National Food Authority turned down the city government’s request to purchase at least 10,000 sacks of rice intended for drivers of Angkas and motorcyclesfor-hire. According to Ma. Belen Barbanida, NFA provincial manager, rice purchases are allowed by the agency only during calamities.
At least, the NFA rejection of City Hall’s request did not stem from the fact that the agency could have found it improper that only motorcycle-for-hire and Angkas drivers are the ones benefitting from the rice transaction.
Still, we do hope the city will push through with the purchase of rice. The fund has already been appropriated. In fact, the Bids and Awards Committee has already scheduled a public bidding for January 29, calling interested bidders to submit documents to the technical working group for review.
But the City Hall should think twice about its desire appropriating rice subsidy to Angkas and motorcycle-for-hire drivers only. It should also consider other sectors that badly need assistance from the city government.
It would be better if the city will include in the rice assistance those upland farmers now having a hard tending to their farms because of the lack of water supply and fertilizer, among others. And, yes, there are those underpaid laborers in the city who are in dire need of the local government’s attention.
Although there’s nothing wrong with giving special attention to the current predicament of Angkas and motorcycle-for-hire drivers, the city government should also look into the plight of others who are now struggling to make ends meet.