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Thursday, September 19, 2019
CEBU

Bzzzzz: Seniors subsidy, traffic lights to be funded by 'untouched' money

SunStar File

PEOPLE talk about...

[1] A P100,000 CASH GIFT BEING 'NOMINAL,' THEREFORE NOT ILLEGAL. That, according to Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission member Greco Belgica. Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo disagrees. The "nominal" factor being interpreted into the law that does not distinguish now befuddles public officials.

[2] PASAY CITY OFFICIAL APED CEBU'S TOMAS OSMEÑA? Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto has posted on social media a photo showing the office of a dismissed department head, which was stripped bare ala Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City. Unlike Tomas, who completed his elective his term, the unidentified Pasay official was sacked for "abusive behavior."

A first time

For the first time under Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella's administration, it

will attempt to spend some of the money from the sale of SRP lots, which has been not touched since then mayor Tomas Osmeña announced at the start of his administration in 2016 that it would not be.

Under Supplemental Budget #2, P500 million will be spent to replace the decades-old Scats or Sydney Traffic Adaptive System, and P455 million for seniors and P80 million for the physically disabled.

OK, what could be the problem ahead for SB#2, which is now referred to committees? Unlike SB#1, which appropriates P190.3 million, from realigned funds, for garbage collection up to December, SB#2 will feed solely on the money paid by business consortium for the SRP lots.

Its fund sourcing is the P16.3 billion "untouchable" money, for which, during the past three years and in the last gasping moments of his term as mayor, Osmeña has set up measures and made moves to prevent its use. He didn't spend it from 2016 to 2019 and he wouldn't want to spend it during his successor's term.

Could BOPK stop it?

Most likely not this time, with control of the Cebu City Council already wrested from the former ruling party BOPK (10 against 8; 20 of 22 committees). But it could delay projects and programs such as the traffic lights and populist grants such as the seniors subsidy.

BOPK will argue that the SRP fund is still tied up by court litigation; Barug will say it no longer is, with the withdrawal of city's petition in court.

Barug though will have to follow each stage of the procedure, thus the prospect of delay.

Action on SB#2 will test how fast the City Council can move, with BOPK "fiscalization."

Why seniors fund is in SB2

BOPK's Lea Jopson, interviewed on Bombo Radyo Wednesday night (August 21), wondered why the seniors fund and subsidy for the disabled were not included in SB#2 and not in DB#1. The financial aid could've been released already.

She indicated the procedure requires time.

Speculations by City Hall watchers:

[1] The administration thinks the garbage problem is more urgent and impact more widely on public services than traffic or the charity to specified groups.

[2] It would increase chances of speedier passage if they tuck the seniors fund into SB#2 which would have a contentious source.

Beneficiaries of the fund have not received the dole-out since last May 18 when they got their third tranche of P2,000 each. Seventy-five thousand seniors and 8,000 disabled persons in Cebu City look forward to each payout, which explains the huge public interest in any factor that will delay it.

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