We will rise again-A A +A
Sunday, October 20, 2013
TREMORS continue to shake Cebu and Bohol as I began writing this column Sunday afternoon. One particularly strong one brought us–me and the kids–gathering in the sala. I feel safer in the house than inside concrete buildings. And I urge those still staying in buildings with cracks to start looking for safer places to stay.
Doris went to Bohol earlier with Caloy Manlupig of Balay Mindanao to facilitate the arrival of relief goods from Cagayan de Oro City. When I called, their group was on their way to Maribojoc despite stronger aftershocks compared to Cebu. She is at her best bringing together clients and civil society contacts in helping people.
Despite the damage here in Cebu, we are devoting most of our efforts to reach quake-stricken folks in Bohol. Though we have our own share of damaged buildings and casualties, the destruction and suffering in Bohol is way beyond what we could imagine from the social media photos and videos we are seeing. Add to the difficulty the deeply-rooted patronage politics that reared its head in the selective distribution of relief goods.
Ka Bino Guerrero shared that one barangay leader had the gall to demand that relief goods be coursed through the barangay hall when it was obvious relief only went to a political camp’s supporters. Di ko makasabot ngano. Ang pagtabang sa tanan makakumbinser man unta sa mas daghan pang botante.
Here in Cebu City, Team Rama sympathizers complained on Facebook why President Noynoy Aquino had former congressman Tommy Osmeña by his side and not the mayor. Well, it was not Tommy beside Vice President Jojo Binay when he inspected the damage at the Sto. Niño basilica. I also heard reports that Cebu City Hall dragged its foot in extending assistance to vendors at the damaged Pasil Fish Port where the mayor reportedly lost. Depende sa makapabor.
Politics aside, we have many things to thank God for here in Cebu. The 7.2 magnitude quake struck on a holiday when many families were together at home. I could not imagine myself rushing from one campus to another looking for the kids as images of damaged buildings began pouring in via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Still, several buildings got damaged leading to several deaths. In a way, the quake should serve as a warning to those who construct substandard structures – like that newly built mall at the South Coastal Road with its collapsed roof.
But then, many of our buildings are simply old. If we talk of Cebu rising again, a visible symbolic indicator would be the rebuilding of the basilica and the Cebu City Medical Center.
With the kind of leadership our political leaders are showing us, I am glad that the private sector is taking the cudgels for Cebu and Bohol to rise again.
The Rama and Osmeña camps are again locked in conflict, this time, over the proposed supplementary budget now being discussed by the Cebu City Council. I don’t know what the real score is if we look at the conflict like a game of sports, but I am more concerned about the substance of the proposed budget.
I recently met lawyer Totol Batuhan and among the things we discussed was an item included in the supplemental budget that we found odd. Mayor Rama’s proposed budget includes an appropriation amounting to P187,063.23 for the reimbursement of mobile phone bills since 2005 up to 2012 with one Rodrigo Abellanosa as the payee.
I was surprised that our enterprising reporters at the Cebu City Hall missed this item in schedule 2.
Do we really have to appropriate this amount considering all the other priority needs of Cebu City?
Totol said he already alerted his Team Rama allies at the council–Councilors Mary Ann delos Santos, Dave Tumulak, and Hans Abella. He said they promised to look into it kay basin nataligam-an. What?
Nataligam-an ni Mayor Rama?
This immediately raised alarm bells. I obtained a copy of the supplemental budget and began looking at it closely. I admit though that I am not an accountant nor am I particularly good at reading financial documents.
However, it is not difficult to figure out that the anti-drug campaign–the root of nearly all petty crimes in Cebu City–is not a priority of Mayor Mike Rama. Note that the City’s anti-drug campaign program only got an appropriation of P750,000.00. Mahurot ra man ni dayon sa mga seminar sa mga luhong resort.
Compare this to the proposed appropriation of P2.8 million for janitorial services. Well, one can argue that janitorial services are important. But how about a capital outlay of P10.5 million for the renovation of the City Hall executive building and the City Hall annex building? Is beautifying City Hall more important than solving the drug problem? Pag-syur mo, oi.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 21, 2013.