Mandaue VM Fortuna calls opposition councilors’ move anti-people, anti-poor

By Rosalie O. Abatayo |April 25,2019 - 06:15 PM

MANDAUE CITY, Cebu —Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna of Mandaue City lashed out at the move of the opposition councilors who are accusing the administration of using the Hinabang sa Edukasyon, Livelihood ug Panglawas sa tanan (Helps) program to lure voters.

The opposition-allied majority of the Mandaue City Council has asked the local office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to junk any petition of the city for exemption from the ban on the disbursement of funds during the campaign period.

Read more: Mandaue City Council asks Comelec not to exempt city’s cash assistance program from election ban 

Seven out of twelve members of Mandaue City Sangguniang Panlungsod signed the resolution resolution, which was approved and adopted at the council’s regular session on Wednesday afternoon, April 24, 2019.

The Helps program covers education, hospitalization, funeral, burial, and medication maintenance assistance to applicants whose indigency is certified by the CSWS.

Fortuna, who is eyeing re-election in the May midterm elections under the slate of incumbent mayor Luigi Quisumbing, calls the move “anti-people and anti-poor.”

“Pwede diay na nga ingnon nato ang mga tawo nga ayaw usa mo og kasakit ha kay election pa?” Fortuna said.

(Can we tell the people not to get sick because it’s still election time?)

Fortuna belied the allegations that they use the disbursement of the cash assistance as a campaign stunt.

Read more: Mandaue’s CSWS readies cash aid for Hermag fire victims

“Dili man kami ang mohatag sa (It is not us giving the) cash assistance. When the campaign period started, we stopped [being there in the distribution] because of the restrictions sa Comelec,” Fortuna said.

Quisumbing and Fortuna are going up against Cebu Sixth District representative Jonas Cortes and Sixth District Board Member Glenn Bercede in the race for the top two spots of the city.

The City Social Welfare Services (CSWS) of Mandaue City, meanwhile, maintains that the distribution of cash aid under the Helps program of the city government is valid.

This despite the provision of election laws and resolutions of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which prohibits the disbursement of government funds within the 45-day campaign window before the May 13, 2019 midterm polls.

CSWS head Jessie Perez said on Thursday, April 25, 2019, that the Helps program is covered by the exemptions to the election disbursement ban provided for by Comelec Resolution 10511, which was issued on March 20, 2019.

Comelec Resolution 10511 says that established existing projects of the government, or those established before the campaign period started on March 29, may be exempted from the disbursement ban provided that a list of these projects is submitted to the Comelec before the campaign period.

City Administrator Danilo Almendras, in a separate interview, told CDN Digital that they were able to send a formal communication to the regional office of the Comelec asking for the exemption.

Perez added that their taking over in the issuance of the Certificate of Indigency is one of the safeguards that they took in order to keep off the applicants for the cash assistance from the mercy of politicians.

According to Perez, they have already served about 6,000 cash assistance applicant since January. The city has appropriated P35 million for the Helps program this year. /bmjo

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