Bzzzzz: Look closer at Mayor Mike's post-Odette plans: city's own power plant, underground wires of utilities. City Council has one week for its ideas. 4,500 seniors left out on City Hall cash aid.

·3 min read

DEADLINE FOR SANGGUNIAN. In giving his "initial" master plan for the recovery of Cebu City from the ruins of the super-typhoon pandemic and the super-typhoon, Mayor Michael Rama gave the City Council Wednesday, January 12, one week to submit its own recommendations.

Mayor Mike, with just a trace of humor, said he was given only a few days to present his report while the Sanggunian gets a full week. With ideas from the councilors and other sectors, the master plan will comprise the thinking of various sectors, under a process he has been calling "convergence."

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POWER PLANT, 'UGLY' WIRES. More than a glimpse was what Mayor Rama presented Wednesday. He reported the damage on infrastructure and the normal life and business of the city from Typhoon Odette, along with the immediate response from the City Government.

Most of the ideas were not new, bundled in his ongoing collection of programs and thrusts (43 and still piling up, as of January 12).

What may jolt the public and set off debate were (1) the plan for the City to have its own power plant for disasters and other emergencies, (2) the transfer of wires of public utilities from where they are now to underground, and (3) the overhauling of connectivity facilities of City Hall with the barangays, and the barangays among themselves.

Under #1, City Hall's planned power plant would be helping Veco and Cebeco during emergencies but how could that be done and at what cost. Perhaps, it could serve areas still under-served by the private power firms even during normal times. No details of the plan were given.

Idea #2 has been a program of Veco for some time now but, mainly for optics ("those ugly spaghetti wires," one mayor once said). It has been implemented in bits and spurts. The wires hoisted by posts are not only aesthetically unpleasant, they're easy to topple down and difficult to raise again.

As to #3, Rama said he was "dismayed" that the barangay government units, with City Hall and among themselves, are not yet "interconnected." A city official later commented, Mike didn't know that when he was mayor for two terms, acting mayor several times and vice mayor for four terms?

Tougher to carry out, thus more ambitious, is the plan of the mayor to require houses and other structures to be so built as to withstand the level of a super-typhoon or a big earthquake. That would need the help of national agencies and congressional legislation.

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'LEFT-OUT SENIORS.' Cebu City's seniors had three days, December

21-23, 2021, to collect the cash aid at barangay halls and then in the last two working days before yearend at City Hall.

Yet a number the seniors failed to collect their share -- about 14,500, with a total of P13 million cash aid -- before December 31 last year, thus "forfeiting" the money. When the treasury books were closed at yearend, the money reverted to the general fund. (According to 2021 figures, 87,538 seniors in Cebu City are qualified for the cash aid, or less than point one per cent, 0.0165, didn't get theirs last December.)

OIC City Treasurer Mare Vae Fernandez last Wednesday told the Sanggunian it would need re-budgeting for the seniors left behind on cash assistance in the last quarter of 2021to collect their share.

On motion of Councilors Raul Alcoseba and Eugenio Gabuya Jr., the City Council, in that January 12 session, asked the city treasury and accounting office to "find ways" for the seniors to be paid. Councilor Alvin Dizon said these are abnormal times and the seniors need help. Councilor Gabuya said lack of communication and transportation caused by Odette largely were to blame for the failure. Each senior was entitled to P3,000, covering October to December.

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