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Cebu News

Tomas: Cut down seniors’ list, allowances of judges

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Saying the city is operating on a "major deficit," Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña continues to cut down the expenses at City Hall.

Osmeña said he will trim down the list of registered senior citizens in the city which has now reached 67,300 and reduce the financial aid of at least 78 judges and clerks of court, among others.

In his press conference yesterday, Osmeña said he is reviewing the list of registered senior citizens who are getting P12,000 aid each from the city government every year.

He believes that there are those who have transferred residence to Cebu City just to get the aid.

"Now, if I have to, the new residents of the city who are registering as senior citizens might also be eliminated from the list," he said.

Osmeña assured, though, that he will not reduce the current P12,000 cash assistance.

In 2008 when he was also the mayor, Osmeña said, the city has started giving cash aid to the elderly but it was still P2,000 at that time and there were fewer registered senior citizens.

"So I'm saying that you might have not been a senior citizen in 2008 but you were a voter of Cebu City and now you're a citizen, that's okay. But, if you are not a voter in 2008 and now you are a citizen vo-ter of Cebu City, you're on the second priority," he said.

Office of the Senior Citizens' Affairs head Domingo Chavez, for his part, said he is just waiting for the mayor's directive.

Also believing that some senior citizens transferred to Cebu City just to avail of the cash aid, he said OSCA is now only accepting applications of senior citizens who are registered voters in Cebu City from 2010 and below.

Further, Osmeña said he will cut 50 percent from the subsidies that judges are getting from the city government. Clerks of the court, on the other hand, will get a 75-percent cut in their financial aid from the city.

"If the justice department would give City Hall employees an increase, fine, I will also give them an increase. But they don't give us an increase. So, why would I give them an increase?" he said.

As of now, the city is giving Court of Appeal judges P25,000 each; CA clerks P4,000; Regional Trial Court judges P20,000; RTC clerks P4,000; Municipal Trial Court in Cities judges P15,000; MTCC clerks P4,000; and RTC social workers P4,000.

Osmeña said he wants such subsidies reduced as soon as possible.

"We are running a major deficit. We have gotten to a point where the previous administration wants to sell land to pay salaries. No!" he said.

According to Osmeña, he initiated the giving of financial aid to judges before because he believed that they were underpaid.

Instead, Osmeña said he wants to give extra allowances to his department heads.

He said he is doing his share in cutting down the expenses at City Hall by not getting a government vehicle, neither his wife, City Councilor Margarita Osmeña.

"The city did not even spend one centavo directly when I took my oath of office," he said. He said he is also trying to spend more on the educational program of the city, which is one of his priorities.

City Budget Officer Marietta Gumia said she is just also waiting for the mayor's final order.  Sought for comment, RTC executive judge Soliver Peras said he would reserve his comment once there is already an order for the reduction of the allowances.

Although the slashing would affect his finances, he said he would respect if the plan is pushed through as it is within the discretion of the local government unit.

RTC Branch 11 Judge Ramon Daomilas, for his part, said it would definitely not affect their job.

"It's their (LGU's) prerogative. I will respect that. We will just do our job with or without allowance," he told reporters.

Judges are receiving allowances on top of their monthly salaries of at least P40,000 depending on the years of service.

Cebu City Prosecutor Li-ceria Lofranco-Rabillas, on the other hand, is hoping that the mayor would not push through with lowering the allowances.

"Well it's his prerogative. We just hope it won't happen because it goes a long way for prosecutors who only depend on their salaries," she said in a text message sent to The FREEMAN.

A prosecutor receives a basic salary of at least P25, 000 to P60,000, depending on the rank. — Jean Marvette  A. Demecillo and Michael Vencynth H. Braga (FREEMAN)

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