THE political opposition in Cebu City, especially south district congressional bet Jonathan Guardo, may have to give it to Mayor Tomas Osmeña for conceiving the scholarship aid to high school students scheme.
The mayor may not have the noblest intention in promising P10,000 to P20,000 to each high school student in the city who graduates in a public school, but it looks like there’s not much the opposition can do about it.
If the opposition blocks the plan by whatever means, it would end up as villain in the eyes of the 7,163 youths who are the target beneficiaries of the financial aid.
But Guardo may be correct that the mayor, who is running against him for the south district congressional seat in the May elections, looks desperate in this scheme.
Osmeña used to rely solely on projects that miraculously flow like the deluge when a campaign period nears or starts.
That he has shifted to a strategy of giving direct dole-outs, which is more brazen, could mean that he is worried about the opposition.
Or there could have been some truth in Osmena’s statement that it is only recently that the city accumulated a huge surplus in revenue—meaning, it is already late in the day to conceptualize vote-collecting projects.
But no matter how wily the mayor may look with this scheme, he should not have used the name of God, in this case the Sto. Nino, in vain.
To say that the giving of financial assistance, whose main intention is political whichever way you look at it, is being done in honor of the Sto. Nino, sounds grating to devout Catholics.
Besides, if he was honest in his intention, he could have used his personal money and not public funds, in thanking the Sto. Nino for “curing” him of his cancer.
The two other arguments he used in defending the move—that the beneficiary high school graduates are not yet of voting age and that the assistance is not limited to the south district---do not also wash.
Those high school students have parents or siblings who are of voting age and who could be swayed by the promised assistance.
And why would the mayor limit the giving of financial aid to south district students when that would strip the act of any cover?
The only consolation in this matter is that City Hall, for once, is giving to its people a portion of the basic services that they have been deprived of for a long time now.