Cebu News

Even if city budget short P5M: SFI hikes cash aid and prizes

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – The Sinulog Foundation Inc. will get only P25 million in assistance from the Cebu City government for this year which is P5 million less than what they asked.

However, it is still the same amount the city gave them last year. SFI also assured the lack in budget will not affect the prizes for the contests. They are even increasing the financial subsidy and the prizes the Sinulog sa Kabataan.

This, as the city government is temporarily using part of the P13.4 billion 2015 budget because acting mayor Edgardo Labella questioned the number of votes that passed the P6.4 billion 2016 Annual Budget.

“Among gipangayo is P30 million. Natan-aw man namo nga kun ilang i-reenact ang 2015, we will just play with that 2015 budget,” SFI Executive Director Ricky Ballesteros said.

“Even if it is lesser than what we have asked, P25 million is still enough. Beggars should not be choosy baya. We are still thankful sa atong city government because of this assistance,” he added.

Ballesteros said the entire budget for this year’s Sinulog Festivity is at P47 million, relatively higher than last year’s P45 million.

In 2015, the city gave P25 million to SFI as financial assistance and this is still the amount that will be given to the foundation this year.

However, in anticipation of the P30 million financial assistance, Ballesteros said the foundation increased the financial subsidy and the prizes of the contingents of the Sinulog sa Kabataan and the out-of-town contingents.

From the P150,000 financial subsidy to all contingents, Ballesteros said the foundation increased it to P200,000.

“Before, we used to give only P150,000 karon, P200,000 na. Maong na P30 million atong gipangayo because of this increase unta kay they spent a lot. Ang akoa lang, ang ilang kahago pag-prepare, dili lang sa ilang expenses, grabe ilang kahago,” he said.

Ballesteros said the foundation also increased the grand prize winnings of the Sinulog sa Kabataan from P300,000 to P350,000.

“Maluoy mi kay for how many years, P300,000 ra gyod na and dako kaayo sila og gasto. Grabe ilang effort. Nag-base unta mi sa P30 million,” he said.

When asked on where they will get the needed P5 million, Ballesteros said it will be sourced from the foundation’s money.

He said the lack will not affect the operations since there are fewer contingents joining the grand parade on January 17.

“Since mas fewer atong contingents, so, dili kaayo ta apektado. Kun naa man siguro’y mapuno ang foundation, gamay nalang,” he said.

Ballesteros said only seven out-of-town contingents will join this year, compared to last year’s ten.

The foundation is also expecting 30 contingents for the grand parade this year, fewer than last year’s 40 contingents.

The fewer contingents can be attributed to the election season since there are local government units not willing to spend money, he said.

“We are looking at 30 contingents so that we can finish by 7 p.m. Kay sa last year man gud, we finished around 9 p.m. and we had problem on the crowd control going in the Cebu City Sports Center,” he said.

In a separate interview, Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said the city government coordinated with the SFI after encountering the issue on what budget to utilize this year.

“Actually, okay ra ang P25 million. We consulted with them. Gamay ra (ang gap) because we have fewer contingents now. We consulted this matter with SFI director Ricky Ballesteros and P25 million would be enough,” he said.

Labella said the executive department will forward the budget ordinan-ces that covered the 2016 Annual budget to the Department of Budget and Management for review.

“Considering that it is the DBM, which is the official body of the government, I advised the local finance committee to refer this matter to DBM for them to rule on whether or not the budget was enacted, on whether or not the action taken by the executive was correct,” he said.

“I think the issue should be settled once and for all by the DBM itself. I wish DBM could come up right away,” he added.

The executive department is temporarily using the 2015 budget.

While Labella insisted that the City Council did not validly enact the 2016 Annual Budget, the legislative body asserted that it passed the 2016 Annual Budget with nine votes of the members of the City Council.

But Labella said the City Council is mandated to resolve the issue in 90 days starting January 1.

“In other words, it is not yet over. Because when I called their attention about the non-compliance of the law, that does not mean that it is the end of everything. They are still mandated by the Local Government Code to come up with a budget for the current year, annual budget. And they have to do that in the next 90 days,” he added.

Meanwhile, Balleste-ros also said SFI already sent a letter to the Province of Cebu asking for financial assistance. He said he will personally follow up the request with SFI President Pericles Dakay.

Ballesteros said they are asking for P3 million in financial assistance.

“Sa tuig nga 2013 and 2014, wala naman to, but they promised us P1.5 million. Pwede nalang i-apil sa 2016. Anyway, we are giving also financial assistance and subsidy to the province contingents,” he said.

He said that it will still be given to the contingents of the Sinulog sa Kabataan outside Cebu City.

The SFI is giving P120,000 to contingents outside Cebu City for their two-way transportation since Kaohsiung buses can only go up to Danao City in the north and Carcar City in the south. — /BRP (FREEMAN)

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