Editorial: Being realistic

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Friday, February 28, 2014


IT TOOK a visit by President Noynoy Aquino to make Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III realize that the Provincial Government was not being “realistic” when it asked for a rehabilitation fund of P26.8 billion from the national government. Now Capitol is settling for P10 billion.

The change of stance was announced by Davide following his talk with the President. PNoy visited Yolanda-hit areas in northern Cebu after gracing the celebration of the 28th anniversary of Edsa 1 last Wednesday.

But how realistic is P10 billion relative to Capitol’s rehabilitation plan for the typhoon-damaged areas in northern Cebu? Or how did Davide and Aquino define “realistic” when they discussed the proposed aid?

Apparently, “realistic” does not refer to the money actually needed for a decent enough rehabilitation effort. Considering the damage wrought by Yolanda not only on the dwellings of typhoon victims but also on infrastructure, agriculture and livestock, P10 billion isn’t enough. And because it isn’t enough, it isn’t realistic.

But realistic surely refers to the capacity of the national government to help, especially because northern Cebu is only one of the many places in the Visayas that was badly damaged by the typhoon. Malacañang has to spread the butter on a bigger loaf of bread.

And it helped that Davide and PNoy are party mates. They were able to talk things out without Davide complaining to the media later about the national government’s failure to give “realistic” rehab fund.

Still, what Capitol did only made logical the procedure laid down by Malacañang in providing financial help to Yolanda-hit local government units. An objective basis for every amount of funding assistance sought has to be required or officials may make excessive demands.

That is even only one aspect of the worry. The other is in the matter of spending.

Coming at the heels of the pork barrel scam, the giving of financial aid should come with the laying down of mechanisms that would ensure the money won’t go to the pockets of the corrupt.

It’s a choice of whether to speed up the release of financial aid to the point of being reckless or to be sure-footed without being too slow.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 28, 2014.

Opinion

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