A GRANDMOTHER looks forward to her monthly assistance from the Cebu City Government to help pay for her medicine. Another has promised the money to her daughter to pay an advance.
Children of a senior citizen await the next cash distribution as a chance to pay some house bills. And, in another family, grandchildren know that when Lolo has cash from City Hall, they go to the mall for an afternoon date.
These are among the ways the elderly in Cebu City use their P1,000 a month assistance. But the last cash distribution for them and persons with disabilities (PWDs) was in June yet or in the last month of the term of then mayor Tomas Osmeña.
Mayor Edgardo Labella, who defeated Osmeña, was left without a budget to work on from July until the end of the year. Labella will have to ask the City Council for a supplemental budget to cover this period.
Senior citizens and PWDs have not received the aid for July and August. That means P2,000, at P1,000 per month, that could have helped with the medicine purchase, paid a loan, reconnected electrical supply to the house, or meant quality time with grandchildren.
Some of the seniors are now starting to grumble, wondering why the City Government is not explaining to them the delay, why other expense items like the one on garbage collection were being prioritized over them and whatever happened to campaign promises to double the amount of aid to them.
City Treasurer Jerone Castillo said last week Labella’s office is preparing the proposed second supplemental budget to be submitted to the Council this month. The request is for a fund of P80 million, the amount needed to cover aid to the 75,000 senior citizens and 12,000 PWDs for the six months from July 2019.
Once approved by the Council, Castillo said the releases for July and August would be done simultaneously. On the delay in the aid distribution, Castillo said it was because the Osmeña administration did not allocate a budget for the rest of the year.
No one asked Osmeña why he failed to ensure there was a budget for seniors and PWDs. No one bothered to ask the City Council, whose job it was to approve budgets, why it did not pass one for this sector or why it did not make sure there was a fund. Many of the Council members then are still councilors now.
City Hall should reach out to senior citizens and PWDs to explain what is happening and who should answer for the delays. That is the least it can do at this time when the aid is pending.
Others could argue that the cash is assistance and recipients cannot make demands. But, no matter how measly the sum, it is aid that they have learned to expect and have budgeted for their needs.
Imagine that the elections were not yet held or were still around the corner. It would be a different situation for senior citizens and PWDs.