Briones: Cebu City Hall’s manna from heaven

Publio J. Briones III
Publio J. Briones III

How many garbage trucks can the Cebu City Government buy with P121 million? Better yet, how many fire trucks or heavy-duty tow trucks can it purchase with this amount?

I can go on and on and on because there are so many other essential things that the City can acquire using this money, which, when it boils down to it, really comes from the taxpayers.

Think of maintenance medicines for those who suffer from hypertension, or diabetes, or whatever other disease that afflicts many Cebuanos.

So again. How do I spend P121 million? Let me count the ways.

However, spending it on cash incentives of casual and regular employees and the gratuity pay of job order employees as part of the City Government’s celebration of its 87th Charter Day last February is not one of my options. Far from it, in fact.

I mean, didn’t they just get their Christmas bonus two months ago? And how much was that? P20,000 or something?

Well at least Cebu City is an equal-opportunity provider.

From what I know, and I could be wrong like I was wrong about the weather in my last column, it doesn’t matter if it’s a lowly clerk -- and I don’t mean to insult clerks because I’m sure their contribution is essential to whatever department they belong in -- or an elected legislator – some of whom jet around the word like they’re going to the market – they all receive the same amount.

The same can be said for the P25,000 that they can expect within the next few days. Or weeks. I’m pretty sure it will be sooner than later because it is money after all, and who doesn’t need extra cash in this day and age?

But ever wonder why the Charter Day bonus is more than the Christmas bonus?

What exemplary feats have they done in such a short period of time to deserve such an amount? Tell me.

Have they solved the garbage problem? Have they addressed the worsening peace and order situation? What about the growing number of mendicants that literally live on our sidewalks and streets? What have they done to help them? Again, I can go on and on and on.

Surely there must be at least one thing to justify this financial pat on the back.

In case you have no idea what I’m rambling about, the City Council, in a special session last March 8, 2024, approved the first supplemental budget amounting to close to a billion pesos. The amount includes the P121 million for the City’s Charter Day bonus.

In fairness to some city officials, they were as shocked as I was by the inclusion of the cash incentives.

Councilors Phillip Zafra, Donaldo Hontiveros, James Anthony Cuenco, Renato Osmeña Jr. and Pancrasio Esparis went as far as to say that they would not be accepting the money.

Then again, what is P25,000 to these people? But hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?

I would have been impressed if it had been a lowly clerk -- again, I apologize for picking on clerks; I really don’t have anything against them -- but I doubt that would happen.

Let’s face it. The majority of people employed at City Hall are like the rest of us. Any additional money that falls into their pockets is like manna from heaven. They’d be stupid to reject it.

Am I blaming them for their windfall then? Of course not. I’d be barking up the wrong tree if I did.

Am I happy with the whole situation? Hell no.

Taxpayer’s money should be spent on all taxpayers, and not just a select few, or, in City Hall’s case, 4,784 individuals Again, there are so many pressing matters that the City needs to address.

So there. I’ve said my piece. I hope they enjoy the bonus and spend it on family and friends. Speaking of friends, I wonder if so and so is still at City Hall.


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