Fire-hit barangay has nothing in its calamity fund

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014


FIVE days after the fire struck, Barangay San Roque officials have yet to declare a state of calamity in the barangay and could not use yet their calamity funds to address the fire victims’ needs.

But even if they can approve a resolution declaring a state of calamity, San Roque Barangay Captain Boy Miranda said they do not have any calamity fund to use to help the fire victims because the barangay does not have an approved budget yet.

He told Sun.Star Cebu that he will talk to Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to discuss how and where they can source funds that they can use to help the 278 families who were left homeless after a fire hit Palma St. last Friday.

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The barangay council was supposed to approve the resolution declaring a state of calamity last Monday yet, but only two councilors attended the session.

Reminder

A declaration of a state of calamity is a requirement for a barangay to use its calamity funds.

The delay prompted Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella to remind San Roque officials of their duty to attend to the needs of their constituents, especially when over a thousand of them lost their houses in the fire last Friday.

Some barangay councilors reportedly did not attend the meeting due to political differences with some officials.

But in a phone interview last night, Miranda said the reason they have not passed a resolution yet is that some councilors were not available to attend the meeting he scheduled last Monday afternoon.

Thursday meeting

“But we have already agreed in principle that we will declare a state of calamity. It’s just a matter of passing the resolution and with enough notice this time, I hope all the councilors will be able to attend our meeting on Thursday,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

He explained that the barangay does not have an approved budget yet for 2014 because of some transactions that the previous administration was not able to account for.

In his press conference yesterday, Labella said barangay officials should already declare a state of calamity so the calamity funds can be used to help the victims.

Some 278 families or 1,139 individuals were left homeless when a fire hit a 5,300-square-meter lot on Palma St.

Warning

He warned barangay officials that they could face administrative complaints if they continue to delay declaring a state of calamity “because when they were elected, they pledged to serve their constituents with political neutrality.”

“So may I remind them to do what they have to do. Naay sunog nga kapin sa libo ang mga biktima, i-set aside ang inyong politikanhong katuyoan. Huna-hunaa unsay mga panginahanglan sa mga katawhan (With over one thousand victims, you should set aside your political differences. Think of your constituents’ needs),” Labella said.

In a phone interview yesterday, San Roque Barangay Secretary Marphy Yarong confirmed that she called for a meeting last Tuesday, but only Councilors Jeime Alcantara and Bobbie Morados showed up.

She said that since they cannot use yet the barangay’s calamity funds, they are relying on the food and cash assistance from City Hall and donations from concerned Cebuanos and religious groups.

Yarong said they scheduled a special session on Thursday.

“Perhaps the councilors were busy with work last Monday so hopefully, with three days’ notice, they will be able to make it on Thursday so a state of calamity can be finally declared,” she told Sun.Star Cebu.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 13, 2014.

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