Briones: Doing without

Publio J. Briones III
·2 min read

THEY’LL just have to grin and bear it.

After all, drastic times call for drastic measures. And if more than six months of community quarantine is not drastic enough, I don’t know what is.

Unfortunately for the employees of the Cebu City Government – or I should say “fortunately” – they have a boss who has a heart. Someone who truly cares. And I’m not talking about votes in the next election but about the plight of the people he has sworn to serve.

You see, Mayor Edgardo Labella knows, as we all do, that many sectors have been displaced by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

So the thought of public servants – because, let’s face it, that’s what they are -- enjoying themselves using taxpayers’ money while thousands of sidewalk vendors and drivers of traditional jeepneys and motorcycle taxis struggle to make ends meet must leave a bad taste in his mouth.

As well as it should. After all, the City Government is partly to blame for their current situation. Not that the former had any choice in the matter but it’s the face behind the clearing of sidewalks, the roundup of street dwellers and the detention of quarantine violators, etc., etc., etc., which automatically makes it the bad guy to those who don’t understand how a civilized society works.

At any rate, the mayor displayed delicadeza when he announced that the City Government wouldn’t be having a Christmas party this year.

He decided that the P4 million budget allotted for it would be put to good use purchasing rice and other foodstuff that the City could distribute to the downtrodden.

And trust me, there are many who are down and out because of the ongoing health crisis.

But hey, it’s not like it’s the end of the world for the roughly 5,000 regular, casual and job order employees of the City Government.

If they want to have fun and games, if they want to hold contests with prizes and raffles, if they want the season to be jolly, no one is stopping them. But, and it’s a big BUT, they cannot use public funds to enjoy themselves. They must use their own money. For a change.

In fact, they should count themselves extremely lucky that they still have jobs that pay them. That means they can still afford to keep a roof over their heads and to put food on their tables. They don’t have to go out on the streets and beg and rely on the kindness of strangers only to be “rescued” later on for doing so.

After all, they can still look forward to getting their 13th month pay before the 24th. Labella has, at least, assured them of that. As for their Christmas bonus, well....