Cebu City Council approves P2.1M budget as assistance for Quiot fire victims
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Cebu City Council has approved with amendment the proposed budget of the Committee on Social Services for the cash and in-kind assistance for the victims of the fire that hit Sitio Sto. Niño in Barangay Quiot, Cebu City, last July 7, 2022.
From the original amount of P2,921,700 proposed by Councilor Pancrasio Esparis, the Council, in a special session last Friday, July 15, 2022, only approved an amended amount of P2,101,700.
Esparis, who currently heads the Committee on Social Services, also served as barangay captain of Quiot before having been elected as City councilor for Cebu City South last May 9, 2022 elections.
The City Council held a special session, online last Friday, July 15, 2022, to deliberate the budget for the assistance to be given to the Quiot fire victims.
The changes in the approved budget stemmed from the Council’s decision to slice in half the amount of financial assistance to be given to the fire victims, from the proposed amount of P1,640,000 to only P820,000.
This, after the Council agreed to follow the existing resolution setting the guidelines for the release of cash assistance to calamity victims, setting aside an executive order (EO) passed during the 15th City Council which backed the increasing or doubling of the City’s financial assistance amount for calamity victims.
The Council deemed that an executive order, technically, is not enough documentary support for the increase of the financial assistance amount for calamity victims.
This means that instead of receiving P20,000 financial assistance from the city government, all structure owners, whose houses or properties were fully or partially destroyed by the fire will now only receive P10,000, while the affected renters and sharers will only get an assistance of P5,000.
Under the original budget proposed by Esparis, the amount of P2,921,700 will be charged against the City’s Quick Response Fund.
Its summary include P640,000 for the purchase of packed meals; an amount of P641,700 for the purchase of housing materials, and the remaining P1,640,000 for the financial assistance to the fire victims.
The allocated budget for the packed meals, Esparis said, covers the expenses for the meals distributed to some 366 affected fire-stricken individuals and personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection, the barangay workers, and the personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Services, among others, who helped in the fire response.
Cebu City Council Minority Floor Leader Nestor Archival, Sr., however, asked Esparis to present a verified list of the identified beneficiaries of the packed meals, which he said, were lacking in Esparis’ presentation.
On Housing Materials
After spotting discrepancies in the presented computation for the housing materials budget and questioning the need for providing housing materials on top of cash assistance with the absence of an appropriate ordinance, the Council has also decided to only approve the appropriation for housing materials, without authorizing yet its release.
Cebu City Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera said that the Executive Department should investigate and determine first whether there will be a basis for releasing housing materials in addition to cash assistance.
In the absence of a documentation providing for the release of housing materials on top of the cash assistance to the fire victims, Archival withheld his vote to approve the proposed budget for the housing materials last Friday.
Councilor Franklyn Ong, for his part, suggested to the DSWS to consult with the Mayor’s office the creation of written guidelines to be followed on the release of housing materials to calamity victims in the City.
The Council, last Friday, agreed to temporarily set aside its relevant house rules and allowed DSWS head Ester Concha to explain before the Council the details of the budget summary proposed by Esparis’ committee, as Esparis deferred the discussion of the budget summary to the DSWS.
The DSWS is the office responsible for the data gathering needed to come up with the proposed budget.
On the Council’s concern on the packed meals budget, Concha said that instead of the usual three days, the fire victims were given packed meals good for five days considering their situation, wherein most of the victims days after the incident had difficulty preparing meals for themselves and their families.
Concha then admitted the errors in the computation for the housing materials budget. She, however, said that the DSWS is currently following the guidelines of the DSWD’s Assistance to Individuals In Crisis Situation in determining the types of materials, including the quantity to be given to calamity victims as assistance.
“With regards to the housing materials, (for the) totally burned-house owners, we usually give 10 GI sheets and 10 boards of plywood. So with the partially affected, 10, pod and the slightly affected we give 3 GI sheets and 3 plywoods,” she told the Council.
Concha, however, said that aside from the fire victims, the City also has to allocate budget for the housing materials of at least five more structure owners whose houses, though were not damaged by the fire, were damaged during the fire response.
“During the event while the BFP was gakamulo sila pasirit during the raging fire, there were damage houses noted also which a total of five houses nga ilang gipang yatak yatakan,” he said.
Esparis, quoting the report of the DSWS said the July 7, 2022 fire that hit the Sitio Sto.Niño of Barangay Quiot has affected 71 houses and displaced 98 families or a total of 366 individuals.
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