Cebu News

Cash aid to seniors: Osmeña revokes Labella’s memo

Odessa O. Leyson - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has revoked Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella’s memorandum conducting the distribution of cash aid to senior citizens through the barangays.

 “In order not to create confusion among senior citizens, the Memorandum No. ECL (AM) 003-2006 issued by the Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella dated August 12, 2016, making the venue for the release of financial assistance to senior citizens exclusive at the barangays halls and/or barangay sport complexes of respective barangay is hereby REVOKED,” Osmeña’s memorandum dated August 15 read.

In the same memorandum, Osmeña also directed the city treasurer, the Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA), the Department of Social Welfare and Services, and other personnel to coordinate for specific instructions.

After receiving reports that “private individuals” will be the ones to distribute the city government’s financial aid to the senior citizens on August 21, Labella issued a memorandum calling on concerned personnel to release the assistance through the barangays.

Labella, when sought for comment following Osmeña’s memo, said he just issued his own memo to be consistent with City Ordinance 2453, otherwise known as “The Annual Financial Assistance to all Qualified Senior Citizens of Cebu City Ordinance.”

 “Whatever it is, I just want to put it into the proper way in the mandate of the law,” he said.

Labella said it is clearly stated in the ordinance that the distribution should only be done through government facilities to ensure the security of the public funds and the disbursing officer.

During the council’s regular session yesterday, Councilor Joey Daluz III, in a privilege speech, expressed concern regarding the matter.

He said his office received reports that “private individuals” will be the ones to distribute the cash aid, instead of barangay officials. He said that some senior citizens also came to his office claiming the same.

He added that the OSCA has been accustomed to conducting the distribution through the barangays.

Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera and ex-officio member Philip Zafra, the barangay captain of Tisa, shared the same sentiments with Daluz.

“I believe that it is a lot safer to hand it out through the barangay officials so that it will be properly dispensed,” Pesquera said.

City Legal Officer Joseph Bernaldez said Osmeña has not discussed the said matter to him yet.

At the same time on Monday, Labella sought the guidance of the Office of the Ombudsman on the matter.

“This is to seek guidance and assistance of your good office pursuant to Section 15 (2) of the Republic Act No. 6770 otherwise known as “The Ombudsman Act of 1989” on the issue of the distribution of Senior Citizens’ Financial Assistance scheduled this August 2016. Under the said provision of the law, the Office of the Ombudsman can ‘direct, upon complaint or at its own instance, any officer or employee at the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, as well as any government owned or controlled corporations with original character, to perform and expedite any act or duty required by the law, or to stop, prevent, and correct any abuse or impropriety in the performance of duties.’

The letter is addressed to Pau Elmer Clemente, the deputy officer of the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, through lawyer Carla Juris Tacno, the assistant deputy officer.

Labella has not yet received a response from the Ombudsman. (FREEMAN)

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