A FEW days after Cebu City Councilor Jerry Guardo defended the City Government’s purchase of 1,000 kits for “tuob,” or steam inhalation, amounting to P2.5 million, Mayor Edgardo Labella, his political ally, denied signing a purchase request.
“I will never allow payment of such amount of P2.5 million for this transaction,” said Labella.
Vice Mayor Michael Rama, presiding officer of the City Council, also could not recall the council passing a budget for the purchase.
Guardo had said City paid P2,500 for each kit. He also struck down criticisms that the kits were expensive.
However, he said he never claimed that “tuob” could kill Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). He only wanted to share how the practice helped him, he said.
The kits have been distributed to different barangay isolation centers, Guardo said.
But Labella said he did not know about the purchase, adding that he didn’t sign any purchase request for the kits.
On June 15, Guardo posted on his Facebook account a photo of him demonstrating to the mayor the practice of “tuob.”
In a previous interview, June Maratas, General Services Office head, said the “tuob” kit was composed of one electric water heater/steamer, one steam gown, one adult bath towel, two hand towels, one industrial plastic chair and one water basin.
SunStar Cebu tried to reach Maratas and Administrator Floro Casas Jr. to ask where the budget for the purchase came from, but to no avail.
Rama, for his part, said the council only approved a resolution sponsored by Guardo and City Councilor Nestor Archival requesting the executive department to study the benefits of steam inhalation.
In Resolution 15-2547-2020, Guardo and Archival said the City should consider studying the benefits of “tuob” while the number of Covid-19 cases continued to increase with no sign of a vaccine yet.
“I don’t think we approved an appropriation for the ‘tuob’ (kits),” Rama said. Nor did the council approve the use of “tuob,” he added.
The vice mayor said he will look into the matter. Once he has gathered details, he will present these to the council for referral to the committee on health, which he also chairs.
Opposition City Councilor Alvin Dizon said the P2.5 million could have been used to purchase vitamins and food for residents.
Dizon also said “tuob” could be practiced without the kits.
“I don’t have anything for or against ‘tuob’ but spending public funds for it is ridiculous,” he said.
He reiterated what Rama said that the council did not authorize the purchase of the kits.
In previous reports, Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there is no scientific evidence that steam inhalation kills the virus that causes Covid-19.
It may even cause scalding injuries instead, she said. (JJL)