On the surface, the plan to hire 600 job order workers to distribute medicines to Cebu City beneficiaries under the Osmeña administration’s Long Life Medical Assistance program looks to be redundant as argued by the Team Rama bloc in the Cebu City Council.
Why hire job order workers to deliver mostly maintenance medicines on the doorsteps of beneficiaries when there are existing barangay health workers ready to do the job themselves, the Team Rama bloc argued, and they’re already receiving honoraria or salaries from the city government?
About P21.3 million are being set aside to pay for the job order workers who will also evaluate the beneficiary’s medical records and encode records. However, we understand based on Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s explanation that the bulk of the work will be delivering the medicines to the intended beneficiaries.
The mayor’s argument is that the city doesn’t have to pay minimum wage to the job order workers to deliver the medicines unlike barangay health workers who will likely demand extra compensation for the extra work.
And while the bloc’s argument that the medicines can be claimed twice a month from the barangay hall seems sound, the mayor’s counter-argument that a lot of the intended beneficiaries are sickly, poor people who cannot afford to send someone, let alone go to the barangay halls to get their medicines, also sounds plausible.
Left on the sidelines in between the arguments and the counter-arguments for the implementation of the program — who wants to argue against free medicines delivered straight to your home? — is the undeniable fact that it boils down to politics for either side.
Like the cash assistance for seniors and the persons with disabilities (PWDs), the Long Life Medical Assistance program is yet another doleout by City Hall that has the intended effect of winning election support from the beneficiaries.
In this case it is the indigent residents whose daily cost of living cuts into their medical maintenance costs. In arguing for barangay health workers to deliver the medicines to the homes of the beneficiaries, it is understood that Team Rama has the most number of barangay officials and employees in its fold.
By hiring out of school youths to deliver the medicines, the mayor provides employment to them while winning support for the beneficiaries. And by insisting that beneficiaries claim the maintenance medicines from barangay halls twice a month, Team Rama claims homecourt advantage again due to most of the barangay officials allied to them.
Then there’s the Department of Health (DOH) free medicines program for diabetics and those suffering from hypertension. Regardless of the motives, city residents should know that it’s their taxes at work here and thus claim whatever is given to them, letting the politicians argue among themselves over who gets the credit for these initiatives.
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