Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama’s announcement that he can only guarantee half of the P12,000 cash he promised this year is made to appear that blame falls on political foes in the City Council who’ve once again reduced his draft P10 billion budget proposal by nearly half.
Quick to see the dodge, City Councilor Margot Osmena called the explanation a “lie”.
The fact is that there is no reduction of the outlay for senior citizens. The council approved intact the mayor’s P720 million budget for the elderly but placed a own condition of releasing the allowance monthly at P1,000.
The mayor has some catching up to do in keephing his promises. City Hall still has a balance of P2,000 to release to the elderly for its 2013 schedule.
At P10,000 each, Cebu City still offers one of the highest subsidies for the elderly in the country.
We’ve seen how it’s inched up from P2,000 a month when the program was started by former mayor and congressman Tomas Osmeña.
Is the intention behind the generosity a genuine desire to improve the welfare of this vulnerable sector? The timing of the promise, given during an election campaign year, shows it more useful as political leverage for votes.
The way promises for an increase in cash aid are dangled, they don’t serve well the dignity of the beneficiary – persons with disabilities , barangay officials and indigent scholars.
If you are genuinely concerned with their welfare, give it and be done with it.
The disappointment of the elderly must have reached his ears.
To cushion the cutback, Mayor Rama said that the other half of the promised P12,000 aid may come in the form of medicine, groceries and other material goods.
He has a point in saying that the large amount of cash sometimes gets diverted, that family members end up enjoying it instead of the senior citizen. Or that cash just ends up paying for debts.
Well taken, but that rationale should have been considered from the start in crafting a well-thought out package for the 60,000 registered senior citizens of the city.
The higher the subsidy for the elderly goes, the more reasons a local government official will find not to release it whole.
In the meantime, Mayor Rama better work double time in looking for sources for groceries, medicine and useful services to fulfill his promise of a P12,000 package of benefits. The elderly may have trouble remembering, but the rest of the Cebuanos won’t forget.