CEBU CITY -- Mayor Tomas Osmeña announced Monday that the City Government is giving cash assistance to every graduate of a public high school in the city.

The assistance, though, will not be given to the students but directly to the school where they intend to enroll in college.

“All high school graduates get P10,000 each…. Only public schools. This is for going to college. We will not give the money to the students, we will give it to the schools,” the mayor said.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

Commenting on the announcement of the mayor, opposition leader Jonathan Guardo said the mayor is using everything at his disposal for the elections.

“The survey results say it all. Because we are now tied, he’s resorting to all sorts of tricks such as senior citizens cash gift and now P10,000 high school graduate cash gift. I will make sure that I will overtake him in the next survey so he will come up with more gimmicks that will redound to the people’s benefit. Taranta na ang kontra (My rival is panicking),” he said.

Asked about the propriety of giving the assistance on election season, Guardo instead said the mayor is “running scared.”

“It’s unprecedented in Cebu City politics. I think the mayor is running scared. I pity him. He’s so desperate for power that he’s spending everything in our coffers. The south district is now probably the most expensive congressional seat,” he told Sun.Star through a text message.

But Osmeña said it is not his dream for the graduates to simply become salesladies in malls, hence the assistance.

“My vision of Cebu: I don’t want to see our graduate students end up as sales girls of department stores hangtud sa kahangturan (forever). I want to give them an opportunity, a chance to be millionaires…to advance to a higher standard of living,” the mayor said.

The student-beneficiaries should come from schools that are government-owned college or university; if a private institution, it must be one of those that agreed to sign a compromise agreement with the city for the payment of real property and business taxes.

As of now, only those students who want to enroll in the University of Cebu (UC) and the Cebu Institute of Technology (CIT) among private schools in the city can avail themselves of the assistance.

Only UC and CIT have agreed to sign an agreement with the city. High school graduates enrolling in public universities like the Cebu Normal University, the University of the Philippines, the Cebu Technology University will also receive the assistance.

The mayor said those who like to take skills training classes at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or those who want to join the Philippine Marines can also receive the amount.

“If the payment in skills training is lesser than P10,000, they can take three courses,” Osmeña said.

In a separate interview, city education consultant Joy Augustus Young said with an average of 82 percent of the 8,735 fourth high school students expected to graduate this March, only 7,163 are qualified to receive the financial aid.

Those from the mountain barangays will receive an additional P10,000 for their board and lodging.

The mayor acknowledged the amount may not be enough, but he said it is a start, adding that past graduates or those who stopped schooling in college would also be accommodated later if funds allow it.

Young, however, said guidelines will be crafted for the granting of the assistance.

“For example, only public high schools, the parents must be registered voters of Cebu City. There could also be a minimum number of (years of) residency (in a school) since there might be transferees who moved to Cebu City on their last year in high school,” he said. (Rene H. Martel/Sun.Star Cebu)