Nalzaro: Government can no longer provide assistance

·3 min read

RESIDENTS can no longer expect financial assistance and relief goods from the City Government while on modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until the end of this month. This was announced by Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella. The mayor said, “I think the aid we gave is already enough.”

The barangay, the mayor said, cannot expect any financial aid from the City during the second half of this month. The mayor also said that locally stranded individuals (LSI) can no longer expect the P5,000 earlier promised by the City Government.

Last month, the City released financial aid to the barangays in the amount of P3 million, P2 million and P1 million, depending on the area and population of the barangay. It was followed by another tranche of P1 million recently. The City also released P1 million for the 80 Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) groups.

Labella’s pronouncement triggered violent reactions from barangay captains allied with the opposition, Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK). They claimed that it is unfair because not all residents received relief assistance because in some barangays it was the Mayor’s Information and Liaison Office (Milo) who took charge of the distribution. But some Milo representatives claimed that what they distributed were bought with a separate budget that was not part of the barangay financial aid. It was the barangay that liquidated the financial aid.

But Labella said those affected in the segmental lockdown would be given priority. On the pronouncement of the mayor, I can only surmise that the resources of the City Government are already draining. And it can no longer support the very basic needs of the people, especially food. Wala nay ayuda kay wala nay pundo (No more help because there are no more funds)?

Even the National Government has drained its resources, too. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) had stopped giving aid to the citizens. Our government cannot support this undertaking forever. Even the National Government’s doleouts were also tainted with politics and anomalies.

If this is the case, why don’t we reopen our economy by allowing our businesses to operate so that people can go back to work and they can earn a living? We might as well ask our health officials, especially the inter-agency task force, to relax the restrictions and we will be going back to normal. In the next 15 days, we have to downgrade again our quarantine status to general community quarantine (GCQ).

Again, it is a matter of striking a balance between protecting public health and the economy. But we can continue to protect our public health and likewise go on with our normal lives, adopting the new normal scheme. The global economy has been affected. Businesses are down and many workers are displaced. And we cannot be held hostage by this pandemic forever. Pending the discovery of the vaccine that can cure this virus, we have to move on and live the lives we used to live.