Seniors haave nothing to worry

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Saturday, January 11, 2014


PROMISES are made not to be broken.” This was the statement of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama in reaction to reports that he is going to slash the financial assistance he promised to senior citizens this year, from P12,000 to only P6,000. This is in view of the decision of the City Council to also slash his recommended budget from P10 billion to only P5 billion.

However, the budget for the cash aid for the city's 60,000 senior citizens that amounts to P720 million was not touched by the council, which is dominated by the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).

Rama criticized the BOPK councilors for not approving his submitted budget as this may affect the delivery of basic services. But BOPK councilors asked the mayor to stop blaming them because they are just doing their job.

Rama said that senior citizens should not be worried because he will try his best to fulfill the promise he made to them during this state of the city address last year.

The proposal to cut the financial assistance to half was brought up by some officers of the Office of the Seniors Citizens Affairs (Osca) during their Christmas party last December. Osca officers observed that once the senior citizens received their financial assistance, they spent it for other purposes instead of buying medicines and personal needs.

So the mayor is entertaining the idea that instead of giving the whole amount of P12,000 in cash, he may give half of it in kind, like insurance and medicines. He asked former city councilor Joey Daluz to study this.

But the mayor said his mind might change depending on the collection of revenues this year. If the city has surplus revenues collected, he might give the full amount in cash.

He said that there would have been no problem had the city council allowed him to dispose of parcels of the multi-billion-peso South Road Properties (SRP).

Now his hands are handcuffed by the stand of BOPK members to not even allow him to negotiate without the council's authority. And revenues from other sources have been affected because the city is using it to pay the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) for the city’s multi-million-peso loan obligation for the SRP.

The mayor ordered the city assessor to review all real estate, residential and commercial properties in the city as there were unscrupulous owners who listed their lots as residential a long time ago but have already converted these to commercial. He urged all taxpayers to religiously pay their taxes.

One of the powers of the government is taxation. No government can stand without getting taxes from the people. It is also the obligation of citizens to pay their taxes to the government. I hope that our political leaders will use the taxes the right way by returning these to the people in the form of basic services.

Mark 12:17: “Then Jesus said to them, 'Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.'” Amen.

***

The Barangay Councilors League of the Philipines (BCLP) Cebu City chapter will elect its new set of officers today. Like the election of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC), it is a proxy war between Mayor Mike Rama and his political opponent Tomas Osmeña.

Kasambagan Barangay Councilor Franklyn Ong, the incumbent local and national BCLP president and who is closely identified with Osmena, is being challenged by newly elected Camputhaw barangay councilor Raymond Garcia, who is identified with Team Rama.

Both protagonists are highly qualified to lead the association. What about money? That could be a big factor. It is public knowledge that Ong is a multi-millionaire. He was said to have bankrolled Tomas’s candidacy in previous elections.

Garcia is mainly relying on his programs to help the city's 560 barangay councilors uplift their conditions by providing then with more incentives and allowances that they can also extend to their constituents.

Let's see the scattered. Makitang katag.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 11, 2014.

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