Some councilors oppose bid to grant cash incentives

·3 min read

THE Cebu City Council resolved to seek guidance from the executive branch on the proposed Charter Day cash incentives to City Hall employees after some councilors raised objections in light of the economic woes caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

During the online regular session on March 10, Cebu City Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia withdrew his motion for the approval of the recommendation of the Program on Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence (Praise) to grant a P10,000 cash incentive to each City Hall employee.

The Praise’s recommendation had drawn adverse reactions from councilors.

Opposition Cebu City Councilor Nestor Archival said it would be “awkward” to grant incentives to City Hall employees while the private sector, who pay the taxes that fund the salaries of government employees, are struggling to keep their businesses afloat and retain their jobs.

“I don’t have objections on this. My point here is considering this time, it’s pandemic. (We in) the City Government are always... we have continuous flow of salary,” Archival said.

“I think it would be something like awkward in the sense that the people who are actually giving us taxes don’t receive anything,” he added.

Councilor Eugenio Gabuya Jr. said the Charter day incentive is given annually, but considering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the timing is not right.

Gabuya suggested that the Council merely note the recommendation to avoid giving false hope to City Hall employees.

Councilor Phillip Zafra echoed the sentiment of the members of the minority bloc.

He said he had seen his staff work hard amid the pandemic, but it is not a good time to provide incentives.

Garcia explained that what was submitted was only a recommendation, which still has to undergo a long process.

If approved by the Council, the proposal will be submitted to the mayor’s office and the local chief executive will decide whether he will approve the cash incentive.

If approved by the mayor, the proposal will be sent back to the Council for funding. This would be the first supplemental budget for 2021.

Opposition Councilor Joy Augustus Young said there would be no need for the Praise recommendation to go through a long process if the Council is inclined to reject the recommendation.

He hit the Praise committee for recommending such a measure at this time of pandemic.

He said half of the small businesses have closed down, including that of his daughter, and many workers have lost their jobs.

“For me, this could not be justified. We should be ashamed. I object to this,” he said.

Young, who has been in public office for more than 20 years, reminded his fellow councilors that they are paid to serve the public.

“Just because we work during an emergency or a crisis does not mean we should get a bonus. We should just get (a) ‘thank you’ because this is our job. Otherwise, we would just be like ordinary citizens instead of government employees,” he said.

The Praise recommendation seeks to grant P10,000 cash to active employees of the City Hall as of Jan. 31 whose length of service is equal to or more than four months. Those who have rendered service of less than four months would receive a pro-rated amount. / JJL