‘Misplaced display of charity’: Delos Santos on Cebu City’s donation of P50 million to quake-hit Luzon LGUs
CEBU CITY, Philippines — ‘Misplaced display of charity.’
This was how Cebu City Councilor Mary Ann Delos Santos described the recent approval by the Cebu City Council of the P50 million financial aid to the local government units in Regions 1, 2, and the Cordillera Administrative Region hit by an earthquake last July 27, 2022.
In her privilege speech during the Council’s regular session on Wednesday, August 17, Delos Santos expounded her objection to the approval of the P50 million financial assistance and said that the amount is more than what the City can afford considering that the City is “cash-strapped.”
“We have to be reminded that our primary mandate when it comes to disaster relief is to come to the aid of our own constituents during disasters and calamities. Mr. Chairman, my dear colleagues, we still have four months to go before the year ends. What if we are struck with another major calamity?” Delos Santos said in her speech.
“If generosity is indeed relative to what we have, Mr. Chairman, then I must say that this P50 million assistance that this August body has approved last August 12, is a misplaced display of charity,” she added.
She claimed that while she is not opposed to providing financial assistance, she disagrees with the P50 million approved amount.
Despite opposition from members of the minority, particularly from Minority floor-leader Nestor Archival and Delos Santos, on the grounds of alleged lack of prudence in disbursing public funds and alleged lack of proper procedures, the majority of the Council got what it wanted.
The City Council passed the P50 million budget, unscathed, during an online special session which was held last August 12 upon Cebu City Mayor and League of the Cities of the Philippines (LCP) president Mayor Michael Rama’s request.
The P50 million will be sourced from the City’s remaining Quick Response Fund (QRF).
Delos Santos added: “The paradox is we are begging on one hand, and generously giving on the other.”
QRF Funds and CAF
Delos Santos also had the Council agree to request the City Treasurer and the City Budget Officer to apprise the City Council, through an executive session next week, on the balance of the QRF of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Funds of 2022, as well as the other funds and trust funds incurred and saved from previous years.
She also had the City Council approve her motion requesting the City Treasurer to shed light on the surrounding circumstance on the issuance of two Certificate of Availability of Funds (CAF) containing different amounts for the financial assistance.
Delos Santos said thata at past 9 am on August 12, members of the Sanggunian received an official email showing a CAF (for the deliberated cash aid) at P10.5 million. However, after questions from the minority on the availability of funds were tackled on the session on the same day, the Sanggunian, after a brief recess at 4:40 p.m. presented a CAF bearing the P50 million amount.
Suspension of house rules
Minority floor-leader Archival wanted the City Treasurer and City Budget Officer to appear before the Council for at least five minutes on Wednesday, instead of waiting for an executive session next week.
Through a corollary motion, he moved for the suspension of the house rules to allow this to happen even though this is not included in the Council’s agenda on Wednesday.
He said it is important to clarify the actual remaining balance on the QRF as soon as possible, as he said he received information that the City will only be left with about P8 million in QRF after it gives P50 million in cash assistance to quake-hit areas in Luzon.
This, he said, is contrary to the claim of Lawyer Gerry Carillo, head of CCDRRMO, that the City will still have a P55 million remaining balance in QRF after the deduction of P50 million financial assistance.
Accepting the fact that they could not muster the required 2/3 votes from the Council to suspend the house rules, Delos Santos gave her last appeal to the Council emphasizing the essence of time.
“Whether we set an executive session next week or the day after or whatever, we will still be propounding the same questions and asking the same personalities to come,” she asked.
However, before the Council was able to conduct the voting for the suspension of the house rules, a letter from the Treasurer’s Office was sent to the Council chairman and Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, prompting Archival to withdraw his corollary motion.
The content of the letter from the Treasurer’s Office, however, was not discussed during the session; although, copies of which were sent to the Councilors.
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