City Council OKs P50M financial aid for quake-hit Abra province
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Members of the 16th Cebu City Council approved during a special session on Friday, August 12, 2022, the P50 million financial aid that Mayor Michael Rama promised to Abra province, which was hit by a strong earthquake last July 27.
This was even after members of the minority council, particularly, Minority Floor-leader Nestor Archival Sr. and Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos expressed opposition on the amount set for the financial aid.
The city councilors convened for an online session presided by Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia on Friday, August 12, in response to a request by Rama.
The council also invited Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) Chairman and former City Councilor Gerry Carillo to apprise the council of the situation in the earthquake-stricken areas in Luzon.
Councilor Noel Eleuterio Wenceslao, who heads the council’s Committee on Budget and Finance, said that fund would be sourced from the City’s Quick Response Funds (QRF), as stated in the Certificate of the Availability of Fund (CAF).
Wenceslao also said that it would not be the first time that the city had done this, as the city government also extended financial assistance to Typhoon Yolanda-affected areas in Leyte and northern Cebu in 2013.
Guardo saiud that the 15th City Council extended financial assistance during the earthquake that hit the City of Ormoc and to the Province of Davao.
P105M QRF budget
Carillo told the council that the remaining balance of the current budget for the QRF was around P105 million, which meant that should the city give P50 million as assistance, the city would have a remaining available budget of P55 million until December 2022.
However, given Cebu City’s own demands amid recent flooding and calamities, Archival proposed to reduce the amount of the assistance.
“If you are going to give this P50 million, we are going to have a very minimal amount of more or less about P50 or P80 million. So, why are we sacrificing here in the city by giving it to the other LGU. We ought to give because they are our brothers, but giving is a nice thing if we have a budget that’s for ourselves,” he told the council.
“And take note that we still have a lot of months, from August to December (2022). If we can only reduce it probably to P25 million, because I think this is the biggest that we can give,” he added.
Archival also argued against the P50 million grant by citing the city treasurer’s CAF for only P10 million.
However, Wenceslao said the treasurer already “corrected the error.”
Prerogative of City Council
Carillo, for his part, said the amount of the financial assistance largely depends on the city council.
“The Mayor, being president of the LCP (League of Cities of the Philippines), went there and saw that the historical and heritage sites of region 1 , 2 and CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region) were badly damaged, so he decided to set aside P50 million, but at the end of the day, it is the Sangguniang Panlungsod that will control how much we are going to extend to our brothers in Abra,” he said.
In the end, the majority of the City Council got what it wanted and gave the approval for the P50 million financial assistance.
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