Council asks senator to speed up cash aid

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Thursday, December 5, 2013


THE Cebu City Council yesterday requested Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano to expedite the release of about P700 million in financial assistance from the National Government to the Cebu City Government.

Of the total amount, P100 million is targeted to be used for the rehabilitation of the Pasil Fish Market while the P600 million will be used for the construction of a new Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC).

Cayetano’s assistance could spare the City Government from a potential graft complaint over its fund-raising campaign. This, as the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas issued a stern warning against City Hall’s “Piso Mo, Hospital Ko” campaign.

The market and the hospital, both owned by the City, sustained heavy damaged when a 7.2-magnitude earthquake affected Cebu and Bohol last Oct. 15.

During their regular session yesterday, the legislative body passed Councilor Gerardo Carillo's request asking Cayetano to hasten the release of the said financial aid.

Rehabilitation

In his one-page resolution, Carillo, chairperson of the council's committee on social services, said the senator has expressed willingness to assist the City in looking for funds for the rehabilitation of the market and construction of a new city hospital.

Carillo said Cayetano made the pronouncement when he visited Cebu over the weekend and met with him to inspect Pasil.

According to Carillo, the senator vowed to facilitate the inclusion of the P700 million needed by the City under the P40.9 billion budget that the National Government has set aside for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by calamities in the Visayas.

When the earthquake hit last month, the ceiling and parapet of the Pasil Fish Market collapsed, killing four people and displacing at least 120 fish retailers and wholesalers.

Presently, the vendors have been transferred to the Pasil Fish Port so they can continue selling their goods.

Safety

As for the CCMC, it has been declared unsafe for occupancy since the foundation of the 300-bed facility was heavily affected by the earthquake, so much so that Mayor Michael Rama ordered its demolition and the construction of a new hospital.

At present, CCMC is operating with only 100 beds at the complex of the Bureau of Fire Protection 7 on N. Bacalso Ave.

The building of a new CCMC is expected to cost P1.5 billion since the mayor wants it to be a 1,000-bed facility while the amount needed for the rehabilitation of Pasil is yet to be determined.

Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol yesterday said private and public institutions need to secure permits for soliciting funds.

“If they (city officials) will not comply, they will just have to answer if a complaint is filed against them,” Apostol told Sun.Star Cebu.

He said solicitation is a regulated to keep track of how public funds were spent.

City Hall’s fund drive has so far generated about P7 million. About P1 billion is needed to build a new CCMC, however.

The Department of Health has pledged P500 million for the city hospital.

Apostol earlier suggested to city officials to secure a permit from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), pursuant to Presidential Decree 1564 or the Solicitation Permit Law.

Code

But City Hall lawyer Gerone Castillo said the solicitation law does not apply to the fund drive since the provision did not mention local government units.

Section 2 of PD 1564 states that “any person, corporation, organization or association desiring to solicit or receive contributions for charitable or public welfare purpose shall first secure a permit” from DSWD.

Castillo cited Section 18 of Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code, which allows local government units to raise funds.

But Apostol said a fund drive by private and public institutions—even if it involves overseas donors—is required to report to the government.

The purpose of securing a permit is to have proper accounting of money collected from the fund drive, he said.

“The campaign is also subject to an audit by Commission on Audit,” Apostol said.

Even if Mayor Michael Rama will send Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella to have a dialogue with him, Apostol said he still cannot compromise the law.

Apostol said the DSWD in Central Visayas is also violating its own guidelines when DSWD 7 Assistant Director Marcial Fernandez said last Tuesday that the City is not required to secure a solicitation permit if its action does not go beyond its area of jurisdiction.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 05, 2013.

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