EDITORIAL - Scrimping on the security of the community

The Freeman

There is nothing wrong in government trying to save up on its budget. Frugality is always a virtue, regardless of whether the one exercising it is a person or an institution, such as a government. But frugality is not the same as negligent scrimping and must not come at the expense of necessities that, when left unmet, give rise to consequences that are more dire than if frugality gave way to necessary spending.

This is the point that bears stressing in light of the revelation that some P240 million out of a P400 million budget of Cebu City for peace and order have remained unspent. Peace and order is one responsibility of government whose performance cannot be allowed to be wishy-washy, especially since crime is inexorably on the rise.

It is by no means an accident that peace and order would get a huge chunk of the annual budget in any local government unit. So much of the life of a community is at stake in peace and order. It is not only the individual members of a community that must rely on the proper delivery of security by government but also all its institutions in business, education, health, and even in governance itself.

It is therefore a real surprise to find out that a city as big and as important as Cebu City would find itself in a situation where more than half of its peace and order budget would remain unspent so close to the end of a given year. Even if Cebu City may enjoy relative peace compared to other cities, that will still not justify saving up on its peace and order budget.

This is not to say Cebu City must spend every single centavo in its peace and order budget just to show it is taking the matter of peace and order seriously. But to leave more than half that budget unspent is to swing in the other direction rather inexplicably. Either the city does not know its priorities, or it is simply negligent criminally.

There is no dearth of means to spend all that money. As stated previously, crime is on the rise even if not to similar heights experienced by other cities. And even if it was not, the money can still be put to good toward the same peace and order goals. Even if there is less crime to combat using that money, a lot can still go to other aspects such as prevention and education.

Cities like Cebu City must always be on their toes as far as peace and order is concerned. Size in area and population alone already make exacting demands from any peace and order budget, how much more if the times are factored in. Cebuanos no longer live in the same world their parents and grandparents lived in some decades ago. Today, communities are not as safe as they used to. And if you have to work hard in that direction, you have to spend for it.

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