For showing “disinterest” in getting the aid, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he will be canceling at least P12 million worth of assistance program to the earthquake-stricken areas of Ormoc City and a town in Surigao del Norte.
Instead, the mayor said he will just donate the P10 million intended for Ormoc City and the other P2 million intended for Surigao to the families of the soldiers who fought and died during the recently concluded terrorist attack in Marawi City.
“I am canceling the project because they are not interested. They are not doing anything. They don’t appreciate our money, never mind,” he said.
Last August, the city government approved two resolutions that moved to give cash assistance to Ormoc City, which was hit by a magnitude 6.5 earthquake on August 23; and San Francisco, Surigao del Norte, which was affected by a magnitude 6.7 earthquake that hit the town on Febuary 10.
The city government also sent teams in both areas to assess the damage of the calamity, which became the bases of the amount of the aid. For Ormoc City, the P10 million was for the procurement of 13 power generator sets needed to run the water pumps that were damaged. Osmeña said he was “insulted” by the lack of interest of the city government of Ormoc in getting the papers done to transfer the assistance.
“I am taking this as an insult. We are trying to be nice to them. We are trying to assist them. We’ve always helped Ormoc during their flooding (incidents) years ago. We are not appreciated. Ayaw na lang (Never mind),” the mayor said.
He said the city government of Ormoc was supposed to pass a resolution for the donation. Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez was also scheduled to visit the city; however, it was postponed.
“I said, ‘Okay they don’t have to come here, but we need a resolution.’ But (there is) nothing. I would like to report that to the people of Ormoc. I don’t know what their mayor and city government is like,” he added.
However, sources at the Ormoc City mayor’s office explained that they have actually started processing the papers for the donation, including a resolution by their City Council authorizing Mayor Gomez to accept the donation.
The memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the donation was received by their office via LBC last October 30, but there were no offices on October 31 and November 1, which were declared as holidays.
“Mayor Richard Gomez left for Washington for an LGA (Local Government Academy)–sponsored seminar on federalism. He comes back to Ormoc tomorrow (today),” the source said.
But the City Council’s committee on good governance met on Monday, where the MOA for the donation was discussed.
The City Council is also set to pass a resolution authorizing the mayor to sign the MOA on the donation during its regular session tomorrow, Thursday.
Meanwhile, some Barug Team Rama councilors also expressed reservations over the mayor’s plan to take back the city’s earlier pledge of assistance to Ormoc City and San Francisco, Surigao del Norte.
Councilor Eduardo Rama Jr. said the city can still provide another set of financial assistance for the fallen soldiers who fought in Marawi City without having to rescind the donations made to the two local government units (LGUs).
“If we can accommodate both, why not? If we have the capability,” he said.
Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, on the other hand, said the city should also find out first what exactly was the problem on the part of the two beneficiaries.
“I want to be cautious. Maybe there are other reasons that contribute to the delay. Anyway, we can set aside another lump sum for Marawi City. Cebu City, being more fortunate than other municipalities and cities, I think we can afford to give to Marawi rather than divert what was intended for Ormoc and Surigao,” he said.
Garcia added that even several months after the earthquake, Ormoc City and Surigao still have not completely recovered and still needed help.
Councilor Joel Garganera, who also happened to be in Ormoc City last night, said Mayor Osmeña could not “unilaterally” give the amount appropriated by the City Council to another beneficiary.
He said it is “unfair” for Ormoc City and Surigao and that it is in “bad taste” to fault them for the delay in complying with the requirements for the donations.
Councilor Phillip Zafra also added that while he would support any move to give assistance to the families of Marawi City’s fallen soldiers, it should be dealt with separately from the aid meant for Ormoc City and San Francisco, Surigao del Norte.
Mayor Osmeña said the city government of Cebu went out of its the way to evaluate all the needs of the two quake-stricken localities, but he said their efforts were not appreciated.
Osmeña explained he did not cancel the assistance out of anger. “I did not cancel it because I am angry. Somebody is organizing a fund-raising for the fallen soldiers. They said, ‘How much can you give?’ And then I thought of this assistance project we have for Ormoc,” he said.
He said the fund-raising activity will happen in January next year. Since it seemed that Ormoc City was not interested in getting the aid, he will just transfer the assistance. The passed resolution for the aid to the two LGUs, he said, will no longer be acted upon.
Sought for comment, Ormoc City Councilor Rolando Villasencio, who is the acting mayor in the absence of Gomez, affirmed they were working on the papers for the donation.
He said they received the MOA via LBC last October 30. According to Villasencio, the MOA was reviewed by the Ormoc City Legal Office last November 4 and was passed to the City Council just this November 7.
Villasencio said due to the series of holidays, there was a delay in discussing the MOA. “By next week, it will approved. It (MOA) will be back to Cebu City. We were working on it because it is for the city,” Villasencio said. Villasencio asked for Osmeña’s reconsideration.
In the case of the Surigao donation, the P2-million aid for San Francisco town was intended for the repair of damaged public buildings and water systems in the area.
But since he received no updates about it, even though the aid was approved, Osmeña said the amount will also be transferred to the fund-raising event.
He said Nagiel Bañacia of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) was tasked to work on the Surigao aid, but there had been no feedback from the recipient LGU.