ALTHOUGH hesitant at first, fire victims of Sitio Tambisan, Barangay Tisa, Cebu City yesterday received relief goods from opposition party Kugi Uswag Sugbo (Kusug).

The residents initially refused to receive the items, after being allegedly told by some barangay officials allied with the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) that they would not be given assistance by City Hall.

One of the fire victims, who requested anonymity, said they were warned that they will be left out in the City’s distribution of housing materials and will not be included as beneficiaries of City Hall’s socialized housing program if they get help from Kusug.

“Giingnan mi nga kon modawat mi og tabang gikan nilang Atan, di mi hatagan ug luna sa urban poor. Mao nang mahadlok mi modawat (We were told that if we receive aid from Atan, we would not be given part of the land for the urban poor. That’s why we are afraid to receive help),” she told Sun.Star Cebu.

Jonathan “Atan” Guardo will clash with BOPK’s Mayor Tomas Osmeña for the south district congressional seat in the May 10, 2010 elections.

Sought for comment, Osmeña said he has no idea about the distribution of goods by Kusug.

“And it doesn’t interest me one bit. I never stopped the distribution of goods since I became mayor 22 years ago,” he said in a text message.

The mayor said Guardo will be given the chance to prove his accusations in court.

Osmeña recently filed a libel case against Guardo and Sun.Star Cebu for a report quoting Guardo as saying some BOPK allies tried stopping his distribution of relief goods to Calamba fire victims last Jan. 9.

Asked if all the Tisa fire victims will still get assistance from the City, the mayor said no one should be left out.

He said Department of Social Welfare and Services Chief Cathy Yso will see to it that they will get help from the City.

DSWS is distributing housing materials to the fire victims either today or tomorrow.

The distribution of two kilos of rice and canned goods to 147 affected families yesterday proceeded smoothly after the residents’ initial reluctance.

“I told them they should not be worried. There is no right-thinking person who would stop other people from helping people like them,” said mayoral candidate and former city mayor Alvin Garcia.

In a separate interview, Tisa Barangay Captain Eduardo Cabulao said he did not know about the allegations, or that Kusug had distributed relief goods in his barangay.

Nalipay nuon ko kay natabangan akong mga tawo (I am even glad that my constituents are receiving help),” he said.

Guardo said he doesn’t understand why he encounters “this kind of controversy every time I give assistance” but that he expects the “harassment” to intensify as the elections approach. (PDF)