CEBU Province’s top two officials are seeking ways to help Cebuanos cope with the effects of the ongoing fuel crisis.

Vice Gov. Hilario “Junjun” Davide III urged members of the Provincial Board (PB) to craft measures to help their constituents cope with the fuel crisis’ effects, particularly on basic commodities.

Davide made the call when the PB held its inaugural session to usher in its returning and newly elected members on Monday, July 4, 2022.

Davide said the ongoing fuel crisis, worsened by the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, has not only affected gasoline and diesel prices but also the prices of basic commodities like rice.

“More challenges are moving in the horizon. The rising costs of fuel that has pushed the prices of essential goods through the roofs is burdening for the Cebuanos. We are all affected as even the price of essential goods will rise as fuel prices continue to increase as well,” Davide added.

Davide said it will be up to PB members to provide measures aimed to cushion the economic blow on their constituents.

For her part, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said she also plans to study a possible solution the Province can do to assist her constituents affected by the ongoing fuel crisis.

Though she admitted that the Provincial Government has no control over the price of fuel, Garcia said they are trying to find a way to help mitigate the increase in prices of food and other basic commodities.

‘Tindahan sa Kapitolyo’

Garcia said she is contemplating of reviving the “Tindahan sa Kapitolyo,” the Provincial Government’s rolling store program, to sell basic food items and other commodities at lower prices to assist those affected by the ongoing crisis.

The “Tindahan sa Kapitolyo” was initiated by the Cebu Provincial Government in 2020 when the Province was affected by a series of lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The program aims to help the poor and marginalized constituents in the countryside by providing easy access to basic commodities and allowing them to buy goods on ration based on the mandated price ceilings of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Inaugural session

During the PB’s inaugural session on Monday, Garcia urged PB members to work together with her in crafting policies that will be beneficial to their constituents.

In her speech before PB members, Garcia said she considered the PB as a vital partner in implementing legislation that would protect the interest of Cebuanos.

She acknowledged the PB’s role in various controversial policies she crafted that were met with challenges by officials under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

The governor looked back at all they have gone through, particularly on how the PB strengthened and defended her efforts to protect the hog industry in Cebu by passing an ordinance to ban the entry of porks and related products from other areas in the country hit by the African swine fever (ASF).

She also mentioned that at the height of the pandemic, the National Government imposed a “no backride policy” for all motorcycle owners nationwide.

The PB, she said, was ready when she called them to convene in order to once again support her executive order allowing back-riding subject to certain conditions.

The governor also recalled how the PB supported her executive order that shortens 10-day quarantine period for the overseas Filipino workers and returning overseas Filipinos to three-day, adding the Cebu Provincial Board could have been the only PB in the country that summoned the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

She also felt grateful to the PB members who supported her controversial face mask policy even as the Department of the Interior and Local Government criticized her move.

“The last three years have been the most challenging for many of us who have been in public service. In fact, when we thought that we have dealt with ASF, Covid-19, [then] Typhoon Odette made an ending in year 2021 and [it] hit 37 out of 51 local government units of the province of Cebu,” Garcia said.

But despite the challenges, Garcia said the Office of the Governor and the PB have continued to work for the good of their constituents. (ANV, MKG / JKV)