CEBU City Councilor Joel Garganera questioned the administration for reportedly using public funds to pay for the barangay mayor’s office (BMO), which an ally of the mayor described recently as “a political strategy.”

“It was admitted by (Councilor Alvin) Arcilla that the BMO is a political tool, it’s their strategy politically to advance their political interest,” Garganera said in a news conference yesterday, where opposition councilors reiterated that BMOs duplicate what barangays officials are mandated to do.

“They’re using public funds for a duplication of barangay structure. Public funds for political ends, it is very clear,” Garganera said.

Although there is no specific local law that creates the BMO, its personnel are tasked to assist residents in their transactions in the barangays. During the regular session last Tuesday, Arcilla said that placing BMOs in the barangays is a “political strategy.”

Arcilla also said it was a common practice during the previous administration, although it was then called City Hall sa Bukid and was supposed to bring basic services to the upland areas.

Being straightforward

“To tell you frankly, Mr. Chairman, this is a political strategy. To be honest, it’s a political strategy just like what the previous administration did before. For me it’s the prerogative of the mayor,” Arcilla said in the session.

Councilor Pastor Alcover Jr. said the BMO has caused confusion in some barangays.

When sought for comment, Councilor Margarita Osmeña said that BMOs serve their purpose, which is to extend services to the barangays. “It’s really a political move. I think Councilor Arcilla was just being straightforward,” Osmeña said.

Osmeña said that not all barangays have BMO since those who are “not hostile,” particularly those allied with the administration party like Barangays Tejero and Mabolo, among others, are directly giving the services to their people.

The councilor said that although she has limited knowledge about the BMO, some of them are job-order workers under the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.

Councilor Raymond Garcia said that the barangays can also provide the services done by the BMO, including the Long Life medical assistance program.

“Why are we hiring additional JO (job-order workers) to do something that the barangays can do? It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money because it’s a duplication,” he added.