TOMAS DANGLES CASH ASSISTANCE TO SK CHAIRS

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram and Rosalie O. Abatayo May 28,2018 - 11:18 PM

OsmeÑa

Funds to be released if SK chairs choose a president supportive of mayor’s agenda; opposition councilors call offer ‘vote-buying’

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña apparently doesn’t want to leave to chance the result of today’s Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Cebu City Federation election.

A day before they would select their president who would sit as ex-officio member of the Cebu City Council, the mayor on Monday dangled P1-million worth of assistance to each of the city’s Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairpersons.

But the financial assistance doesn’t come without a condition: the youth leaders must elect a federation president who would be supportive of his administration, projects and initiatives.

“If the president of the SK will say ‘I will support Kawit Island, BRT (Bus Rapid Transit)’, then I’ll give the P1 million (each to), all (SK) from the 80 barangays. So they better find somebody who supports my administration,” said Osmeña.

Two opposition councilors were quick to criticize the mayor for meddling in the SK Cebu City Federation election.

Councilor Joel Garganera described the offer a desperate move to secure the council’s majority while Councilor Raymund Garcia called it as “vote-buying.”

Both Barug and BOPK have announced that they would not endorse any candidate for SK Federation president and would leave the decision to their allies.

But the mayor has been vocal of his intention to get the majority of the Cebu City Council by making sure that his allies would be elected as head of the Association of Barangay Councils and president of the SK Cebu City Federation who would eventually sit as ex-officio members in the council.

At present, the administration bloc, Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), and the opposition Barug Team Rama – PDP Laban, has eight members each.

But since president officer, Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, is with the opposition, he votes in favor of Barug when he steps in to break the tie.
Osmeña has lamented that the opposition group has been blocking his initiatives.

The most recent was the junking of the P18-billion joint venture project on developing the Kawit Island in South Road Properties (SRP) by a Gokongwei-led firm.

At present, there is no SK Federation president in the council after the Aquino administration abolished the SK in 2013.

The ABC is headed by Tisa Barangay captain Philip Zafra, who is with Barug.

Although he was reelected, Zafra was expected to step down to give way to the ABC election.

With Zafra out, Barug would only have seven members in the council, making BOPK the majority bloc.

But to ensure that the setup would not be temporary, Osmeña would need to get the two ex-officio seats.

If he would get his wish, BOPK would have 10 members as against Barug’s seven members.

Results of the May 14 Barangay and SK polls showed 51 village chiefs were allied with the BOPK.

On Monday, Barug lost an ally when Barangay Bulacao captain – elect Rodrigo Jabellana joined the BOPK. The shift reduced to 29 the number of village chiefs who remained with Barug.

Two SK chairpersons who ran and won as independents – Jennirose Kamille Bontuyan of Barangay Sirao, and Christine Bontuyan of Barangay Talamban – joined BOPK on Monday, bringing to 43 the number of SK chairpersons who had allied with the administration party.

But Councilors Garganera and Garcia who were with Barug criticized Osmeña for meddling on the SK Federation elections.

Garganera said the mayor was “just being desperate” on his desire to secure the council’s majority.

“That’s to show how desperate the mayor is. He will do everything to make our SK leaders his rubber stamp,” he said in a text message sent to Cebu Daily News.

Garcia stated that providing financial assistance to the city’s SKs should not come with a condition.

He said the cash aid should be given especially to the poor villages regardless of their leaders’ party affiliation since these need help to fund their projects.

“And that’s tantamount to vote-buying. There shouldn’t be a condition to helping the SK. The P1-million financial assistance should be given regardless of party affiliation,” said Garcia.

But Osmeña maintained that his offer to provide cash aid to the SKs in Cebu City does not constitute as a “bribe.”

“It’s an election promise. If you help me, I will help you. But really, whatever they spend the money will undergo scrutiny. They will have to indicate how they’re going to spend it,” said Osmeña.

On Monday, the Department of Interior and Local Government in Cebu City (DILG – Cebu City) conducted an orientation to all the 80 newly-elected SK chairpersons in preparation for today’s federation elections.

But the DILG – Cebu City refused to comment on the mayor’s offer. They also prohibited SK officials who attended yesterday’s orientation to give their comments.

Joy Calvo, DILG – Cebu City acting supervising officer, said they had to wait for the proclamation of the SK Federation officers before they could release a statement to the media,

Lawyer Rene Burdeos, DILG director for Central Visayas, said the SK officials should concentrate first on the orientation and today’s elections.

 

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