They did their part and were just waiting for updates and instructions from Cebu City government regarding the donation.
Rep. Francisco Jose Matugas II, Surigao del Norte 1st district, said this yesterday as he denied the Cebu City government’s claim that they were not doing their part on the supposed donation of the city government to the town of San Francisco, Surigao del Norte, which was hit by an earthquake last February.
Matugas told Cebu Daily News in an interview, that their local officials could not do anything since they were just waiting for Cebu City.
“We read in the news that we ignored the assistance. We want to categorically deny that. Who would ignore that kind of assistance when it is a big help to those affected by the earthquake,” he said.
Although the town of San Francisco is not part of his district, Matugas said his mother Sol Matugas is the governor of the province.
The town’s Mayor Guia Sabanal is also their local partymate with their group Partido Padajon Surigao which is affiliated with Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Cebu City was supposed to extend a P2-million assistance to the town for the repair of damaged public buildings and water systems in the area.
However, Mayor Tomas Osmeña recently announced that the amount, as well as another P10 million for the earthquake-stricken Ormoc City, would be retracted and given instead to families of soldiers who fought in the recently-concluded terrorist attack in Marawi City.
Osmeña said the two local government units showed “disinterest” in pursuing the donation for failing to do their part in terms of processing the needed documents.
But Matugas explained that after the February earthquake, Cebu City Councilor Jerry Guardo visited the area to check and do an assessment a few weeks after.
Since then, they have not heard anything from Cebu City until last month when they were informed of the approved resolution for the donation.
In fact, Mayor Sabanal even wrote a letter to Mayor Osmeña thanking the latter for the donation.
“On behalf of the Municipality and the people of San Francisco, I would like to thank you for the financial assistance intended for the rehabilitation of our beloved town. This would help us as we try to recover from the unfortunate disaster that occurred last February 10, 2017,” read Sabanal’s letter which was dated October 15.
Matugas said the letter was both mailed and e-mailed to the Cebu City government.
In the same letter, Sabanal said they plan to use the money to purchase an ambulance as they have difficulty in transporting patients from their town to the hospitals in Surigao City and Davao City.
Matugas’ statement came just as Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez has also issued a statement apologizing for any “miscommunication” with Cebu City regarding the donation.
Gomez said they are still interested with the assistance and added that he had already sent a letter of reconsideration to Mayor Osmeña.
But in his press conference yesterday, Mayor Osmeña was still firm on his decision to not pursue the donation.
“I don’t give a s**t. And I want the people of Ormoc to know that. It’s our money, they’re not even polite,” he said.
“It’s final from the standpoint. I don’t like to talk about it anymore. We just wait until the next disaster. And maybe, they’ll have another mayor,” he added.
For their part, Barug Team Rama councilors criticized the mayor’s statements regarding the issue.
Councilor Joel Garganera said it is in “bad taste” when the mayor just said that Cebu City will help Ormoc City in the next disaster.
He added this was like wishing ill for Ormoc City.
“This is not about him. This is about Cebuanos helping their fellow Bisaya. What stands in the way is his ego,” Garganera said.
Councilors Raymond Alvin Garcia, Pastor Alcover Jr., and Jocelyn Pesquera added that it was not just him but also the City Council that decided on the granting the financial assistance.
As such, they said he cannot just decide on himself to withdraw the assistance and use it for another purpose.
They joined the appeal of the two local government units for the mayor to reconsider his decision since the financial assistance will not be for the benefit of the officials but for the people of the quake-stricken areas.