Cebu City Council thumbs down P40M for food packs of frontliners
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Cebu City Council has thumbed down a P40 million budget request that should have been allocated to buy food packs for the city’s frontliners including police and health staff in quarantine centers.
The councilors did not agree to the proposal of the executive department to allocate an additional P40 million for the food packs as the city already spent P160 million from July to November 2020 for these.
Minority floor leader, Councilor Nestor Archival, in the regular session on December 2, 2020, asked for the liquidation and procurement of the food packs that have been distributed to the frontliners in the city.
Vice Mayor Michael Rama also questioned the additional budget because there seem to be no documents for the distribution of the food packs and whether these packs reached the intended frontliners.
Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, the majority floor leader, pleaded to the council to pass the P40 million because the frontliners and the patients need to be fed.
Garcia said that the previous P160 million have already been spent for the food of over a thousand frontliners and patients since the peak of the pandemic in July 2020.
However, the council members and Rama said that there should be proper transparency on the expenditure of such a huge amount of funds, which are being used to feed the frontliners.
In a phone interview on Saturday, December 5, 2020, Garcia said that he tried to make the other councilors understand the need to feed the frontliners especially the police and the medical staff at the quarantine centers.
“Of course we need to feed our frontliners, they have dedicated sweat and blood for the city to bring down the number of cases. But our council members including the Vice Mayor is not amicable of it,” said Garcia.
For his part, Vice Mayor Rama said that the council did not actually “turn down” the P40 million, but they are only looking for documents and liquidation of the previously spent P160 million.
He said that the proper department heads will be called to face the council and present the liquidation for transparency’s sake.
“We did not turn down the food packs for the frontliners, we are just asking a few documents to be presented. We will tackle it next session,” said Rama in a phone interview with CDN Digital.
Rama also said Mayor Edgardo Labella can still provide food packs to the frontliners using available funds.
However, due to the unpassed budget, the food packs will eventually stop coming for the police and the frontliners in the isolation facilities.
Garcia hopes the council members would reconsider their stand on the P40 million because the least the city could do the hardworking frontliners during this pandemic would be to feed them. /rcg
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