THE Cebu City Government will stop giving financial assistance to barangay officials and workers, Mayor Tomas Osmeña announced yesterday.
But exempted from this are the barangays identified with Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), the mayor’s political group.
“Effective immediately, all financial assistance from the City to the barangays is terminated. I want those involved or concerned to know that I am cutting off all financial assistance unless specifically approved by the mayor,” he said in a news conference.
He also said the move was part of his efforts to trim City Hall’s expenses. One captain expects the move to hamper basic services in the barangays that will be shut out.
Osmeña pointed out that in other local government units and during his previous term, the honoraria of tanods and other barangay workers was taken from the village’s share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) from the National Government.
“But one way the previous mayor has squandered the money of the City is he has been taking care of most of that (barangay honorarium) so they can use the barangay funds to hire their friends, their leaders, recruit balimbings (turncoats). That’s fine. They want to do that but I will not be a party to that conspiracy,” Osmeña said.
Based on the more than P6-billion approved 2016 budget of the City, some P418.58 million has been set aside as financial assistance to barangay officials and workers from January to December.
This covers the cash aid for 1,000 Lupong Tagapamayapa (P72 million) and 1,600 tanods (P115.2 million). Each of them received P6,000 per month from the City.
The budget also covers the financial assistance for 600 drivers and loaders who are receiving P7,000 per month (P50.4 million), 82 city nutrition scholars who are also receiving P7,000 per month (P6.88 million) and 600 barangay health workers who are receiving P7,500 per month (P54 million).
The City also gives P6,000 per month each to the 500 barangay environmental officers (P36 million), P8,000 to 300 daycare workers (P28.8 million), P7,000 per month to the 80 gender and development focal persons (P6.7 million), and P3,000 to the 16 street sweepers (P576,000).
As for the barangay officials’ incentives, a P48-million budget had been set aside for it.
The City gives P5,000 per month as a cash incentive to each of the 80 barangay captains; P3,000 per month each to the 560 councilors; P2,000 per month each to the barangay treasurers; and P2,000 per month to barangay secretaries.
Since he only assumed office last July 1, Osmeña said the financial assistance that will no longer be released will be those starting this month until the end of the year.
But according to the mayor, his new directive will not cover those who have supported BOPK.
“They suffered under six years of (former mayor Michael) Rama’s administration. Maybe I’ll give them a little relief. A little regalo ba (a gift),” he said.
He pointed out they were not given cars, among other things, unlike the Team Rama barangay officials.
Out of the 80 barangays in the city, 14 are identified with BOPK.
These are Barangays Guadalupe, Labangon, Tejero, Mabolo, Kalubihan, Banilad, Capitol Site, Cogon Ramos, Day-as, Kasambagan, Pahina Central, Talamban, Kinasang-an and Buhisan.
Asked if the Team Rama-allied barangays can ask for reconsideration, Osmeña said anybody can do so. But what conditions will he set before he reconsiders? He said he doesn’t know yet.
What if they will jump to BOPK?
“I am not interested. I do not accept traitors. (Councilor) Mary Ann (Delos Santos) was not a traitor. She has never been with us. Di ko modawat ug mga traydor,” Osmeña answered. Delos Santos was previously identified with Team Rama.
Sought for comment about this development, Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president and Tisa Barangay Captain Philip Zafra said it will have an effect on the delivery of basic services in the villages.
“Naa man guy mga barangays nga nagsalig sa counterpart sa City para bayad like those in the mountain barangays kay gamay ra man ila income. So daghan gyud kaayo ang maapektuhan ani. Ang maapektuhan di man ang mga kapitan or konsehal kon dili ang mga tawo gyud ug ang barangay mismo (Some barangays rely on the City’s counterpart funds because their income is so low. Many will be affected. Not the captains or council members, but the people themselves),” he said.
As for using the barangays’ IRA to pay workers’ honoraria, Zafra said most of the barangays only receive P2 million to P3 million a year, and that won’t be enough to cover all the villages’ needs.
Zafra is hoping that the mayor will reconsider. He pointed out that during the administration of Rama, BOPK barangay officials were still given financial assistance by City Hall.