MAYOR Tomas Osme-ña’s political opponent and critic has questioned the timing of the giving of scholarship assistance to public high school students graduating this March.

Businessman Jonathan Guardo said that if former mayor Alvin Garcia gets elected after the elections on May 10, he will ask him to continue the giving of financial assistance to the students and the senior citizens.

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But Guardo said the amount would be given at the start of Garcia’s term and not when elections are coming.

Guardo and Tomas are set to clash for the Cebu City south district representative post.

“I urge former mayor Alvin Garcia that when he wins as city executive, he will continue the financial aid for senior citizens and graduates of public high school.

But the financial assistance…must be done at the start of every term, not when elections is forthcoming,” Guardo said in a press statement sent by his public relations officer Jonji Gonzales.

“It’s a noble vision, he should have done it at the start of his term 20 years ago, not when his term has ended and he is now running scared. Tungod sa iyang pagkataranta, gigamit na ni Mayor Tomas Osmeña ang tanang pundo sa kaban sa Sugbo aron mahatagan og gasa ang taga south district,” he added.

Osmeña, though, brushed off the attribution of vested interest on his plan, saying it is only recently that the City has accumulated a huge surplus in revenue.

He said that no matter what Guardo may say against him or his motive, he is giving the assistance as his way of thanking the Sto. Niño for a new lease on life after he was diagnosed of having urinary bladder cancer.

“Sa utok ra na ni Guardo (He wants to believe that). Basta I’m doing this in honor of the Sto. Niño because he made me live. I will not disappoint (the Holy Child),” he said.

“Ang atong appropriation apil ang north, dili lang sa south. And ang high school dili kabotar. If I wanted the votes, ang hatagan og financial assistance ang voting age, kanang naa sa college (The assistance includes north district residents. And high school students can’t vote. If I wanted the votes, I would have given assistance to those of voting age,” the mayor said.

He said that for this year, the City is set to earn around P5 billion, which includes an estimated surplus of P2.3 billion.

That is why, the mayor said, the City decided to grant the financial assistance, as education is one of the flagship programs of his administration.

And as additional proof of the fiscal health of the City, the mayor said it will give P600 million in advance payment for its foreign debt, which was incurred in the construction of the South Road Properties (SRP).

He said the City is paying P600 million as debt servicing; there is no reason that it could not give the scholarship assistance, which is just around P100 million.

The mayor also said the City is setting aside P50 million for the repairs of the Cebu City Sports Center, particularly the rubberized track.

He announced the other day, that the City Government is giving P10,000 to every public high school graduate, with those from the mountain barangays receiving an additional P10,000.

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

City education consultant Joy Augustus Young said that with an average of 82 percent of the 8,735 fourth high school students expected to graduate this March, some 7,163 are qualified to receive the financial assistance.

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. (RHM)