ALL SENIOR citizens in Cebu City who were able to vote during this year’s national and local elections will already qualify to receive the P12,000 annual financial assistance from the City Government.
Mayor Tomas Osmeña had a change of heart on the giving of cash aid, after he initially wanted to screen the current beneficiaries to ensure that those who receive them are only Cebu City voters since 2008.
“We are going to provide senior citizens assistance to the entire group that has been registered under the city right now. I know many of them are not from the city. They have just come here para makasakay sila. But I said, what the hell, they are all Cebuanos anyway so we will accommodate all of them,” he said.
Osmeña’s decision came after he had a meeting with Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III yesterday.
In his news conference, Osmeña said his earlier pronouncement to give the financial assistance only to those who became registered voters in 2008 was made only to protect the lumads (natives) in the city.
He also said he was worried that the City might run out of money so he wants the current beneficiaries screened and to remove those who are not supposed to be on the list.
It was in 2008 when the City started giving cash aid to the elderly. That time, there were only around 25,000 beneficiaries.
This year, records of the Office of the Senior Citizen’s Affairs (OSCA) showed that there are already around 67,300 elderly who receive P12,000 annually from the City. An P807.6-million budget has been set aside this year to pay for it.
The 67,300 senior citizens are those who have been registered voters in the city since 2010 and below yet, the requirement provided for under the ordinance covering the granting of the cash assistance.
Osmeña said he acknowledged that there are many people from the province who relocated in the city.
“I was thinking about this and they are all Cebuanos. This is our way of helping them,” he said.
The mayor said all the senior citizens who voted in the 2016 polls can start getting their cash aid this year.
He also disclosed that he wants the financial assistance to be given every month.
So this will be met, he will require the senior citizens to claim their money within two days and no longer two weeks as what was previously practiced.
This way, the disbursing officers can immediately liquidate the money that is entrusted to them, so they can start processing again the succeeding month’s releases.
OSCA Chief Dominggo Chavez, in a separate interview, said his office are still tabulating on how many additional senior citizens will benefit from the mayor’s new pronouncement.
He said he will be waiting for the formal order of the mayor first before working on the papers of the new beneficiaries.
Chavez said the ordinance covering the cash assistance will have to be amended, considering that its requirement provides that the beneficiaries must be a voter of the city since 2010 and below.
He said additional funds will have to be appropriated as the budget this year only covers for the 67,300 senior citizens.
On Aug. 16, the City will be releasing P2,000 financial assistance to the existing 67,300 elderly, Chavez said.
This would bring to P8,000 (out of P12,000) the total cash aid already released for this year.
The City will distribute again to the police some of its firearms, which were earlier recalled following an inventory.
The distribution will be made even after the mayor announced that he will withdraw his support to all the anti-illegal drug campaign of the police following the reshuffling and reassignments of some of the police officers in the city and region.
Ronald Malacora, officer-in-charge of General Services Office (GSO), said there was an instruction from the mayor to immediately return the firearms to the personnel of Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) once inventory will be completed.
“The mayor gave me instruction that right after the inventory, which was purposely done to determine the serviceability of these firearms, all those in good condition will be given back to the police,” Malacora said.
In a memorandum dated July 15, Osmeña ordered CCPO, the city councilors, department heads, barangay officials and City Hall employees to return the firearms issued by the City Government for the inventory.
Records in the GSO showed the City has 254 assorted firearms, including 24 20-gauge shotguns, 59 9mm pistols, and 61 .38 caliber revolvers.
Of the 50 individuals who failed to return their service firearms last week, Malacora said only 30 of them has yet to return their guns as of the yesterday.
Malacora said most of the M4 rifles will be assigned to the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit of CCPO, since they used to utilize these firearms even before the recall.
While it will be turned over to the police, Malacora said renewal of the licenses of these firearms will also be done by the City.
As of yesterday, the GSO personnel checked the firearms that will be issued to the police to determine how many will still be used and are already defective.
As to the other individuals who used to have service firearms from the City, like the barangay captains, department heads and some City Hall employees, Malacora said it will be up to Osmeña to decide when they can get them back.
“It will all depend on the mayor when he will give it. Our priority in the issuance of these firearms is really the police,” he added.