LAPU-LAPU City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan is hopeful that the P5,000 financial assistance for the victims of Typhoon Odette (Rai) in the city will be released within this week.
In a press conference Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, Chan said he is willing to take the risk just for the assistance to be released through the Office of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO).
This is contrary to the approved ordinance of the City Council, which decided that the fund for the cash aid shall be downloaded to the barangays.
“I will take the risk. Kon dunay hulga nga ipa-priso ko nila, andam ra ko magpa-priso as long as ma-release na ang kwarta (If there is a threat to send me to jail, I am ready to go to jail for as long as the cash aid will be released),” said Chan.
Chan further stated that 28 out of 30 barangays were unable to liquidate the previous financial assistance given to them by the City Government and there are also 18 barangays that do not yet have an approved budget for 2021.
The City Council, dominated by allies of Chan’s political rival Rep. Paz Radaza, approved on Dec. 28, 2021 the Annual Investment Plan that includes the P302 million budget for the financial assistance of Odette-hit families. But Chan said only P236 million can be utilized under the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses.
No legal basis
In a separate interview, opposition City Councilor Michael Dignos told SunStar Cebu Monday, Jan. 3, that the mayor has no legal basis to channel the funds through the CSWDO since the amount was realigned to be donated to the barangays and the P236 million that had been initially proposed was already scrapped.
Dignos said the money is a special form of assistance that will be downloaded to every barangay and it should be treated differently from other assistance given by the City.
“Kanang kwartaha sa gobyerno man na. Dili na personal sa mayor. Mao nga dili angay magpasikat para lang ingnon nga makahatag siya (That money is from the government. That is not the mayor’s personal money. So, the mayor must not boast that he can deliver the cash aid),” said Dignos.
The mayor added that the city received donations from the national government and other private individuals amounting to P47 million.
However, Chan said he is still hoping that the City will receive additional assistance since the total amount will cover only 56,730 households.
Chan said the CSWDO has already started to process the list of affected households submitted by different barangays.
Chan clarified that individuals who are only renting will not be included for the assistance and only the original owner of the house will receive the cash aid.
The mayor also urged the City Council to pass the 2022 budget so that development funds can be used to hasten the recovery efforts of the City.
Chan further said that based on their assessment, the repairs to damage sustained by government-owned facilities and buildings will cost the City almost P500 million.
Chan added that he will meet with representatives from the Cebu Port Authority and the Maritime Industry Authority to discuss the status of the Hilton Port in Punta Engaño, a vital port for transporting materials and relief goods to Olango Island.