Cebu City Council defers approval of P28-M budget to combat new virus

THE approval of the P28 million budget to be utilized by the Cebu City Government to combat the threat of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) has been deferred.

The City Council held a special session on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, for the approval of the budget, but due to the concerns of some members of the council they agreed to tackle the matter on their regular session on Wednesday, Feb. 12.

The amount will be used to buy personal protective equipment (PPE), including surgical masks, gloves, protective suit, disinfectants, as well as for the training of barangay health workers (BHWs).

The budget will come from the unexpended balance of the local disaster risk reduction and management trust fund in 2015.

City Councilor Dave Tumulak, who sponsored the special session, said the list of items to be purchased are already ready. Only the budget is lacking, he said.

“The time is running, yet our BHWs, the frontliners in responding for the disease, do not have training and equipment yet,” said Tumulak.

Some councilors questioned the process of purchasing the equipment requested by the City Health Office and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO).

City Councilor Nestor Archival wanted to know the chronology of the purchase: from the approval of the budget in the council to the distribution of the equipment to the concerned offices.

CDRRMO officer-in-charge Harold Alcontin said based on their past experience, it took them two months before they were able to acquire the equipment they requested.

But this was clarified by the General Services Officer June Maratas, explaining there were two processes.

Maratas said the requestor can resort to an emergency purchase where the City can contact a supplier and the process involving the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) will be followed.

With the number of persons under monitoring (PUMs) and persons under investigation (PUIs) increasing, the council asked Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to create a task force involving the cities in Metropolitan Cebu.

Councilor Eduardo Rama Jr., who moved for the motion, said it is better if a coordinating council will be formed so the protocols will be uniformed.

Aside from the local government units, the coordinating council should also include the Department of Health (DOH), the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), the Bureau of Immigration, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and the Cebu Port Authority, Rama said.

The council also asked the DOH and BOQ to come up with a comprehensive list PUMs and PUIs for proper monitoring. (JJL)