Editorial: Government aid is not a personal gift

Public officials must be reminded that the financial assistance given or set to be given to their constituents who badly needed it is not their personal money. It comes from the government’s coffers, sourced from tax-paying citizens and people involved in business.

For Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to say that he wants the release of financial assistance to senior citizens, adult individuals who are 60 years old and above, on his 68th birthday on Oct. 28, 2022, could rub some people the wrong way.

Of all the dates in October, why choose the 28th? Just because it is the date of the mayor’s birthday?

Each eligible senior citizen is entitled to P2,000, a cash aid covering the months of September and October.

There are about 89,000 senior citizens who are qualified to receive the cash aid, and the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs is preparing the documents for the release of the assistance. They received last August their P3,000 aid for the months of June, July and August.

Rama told the senior citizens who attended the Senior Citizens Month celebration on Tuesday, Oct. 4, that the cash aid for the months of November and December will be released before Christmas Day.

What was the mayor thinking when he said (or blurted out) in front of hundreds of senior citizens that he likes to distribute the financial assistance on his birthday?

His statement could also be read as a marching order to the City Council, which is presided over by his ally, Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, and dominated by councilors loyal to him.

The City Council must pass the third supplemental budget before Rama’s birthday, which is less than three weeks from now. The supplemental budget amounting to P1.3 billion is needed to cover the assistance for senior citizens from September to December, according to City Councilor Noel Wenceslao, chairman of the committee on budget and finance.

Cebu City Council must quickly act to fulfill Mayor Rama’s wish (or command?).

Mayor Rama must be reminded that the financial assistance to the elderly residents and all kinds of aid for other people, especially for those calamity victims, are not public officials’ personal funds.