The Puerto Princesa City Council is pushing for an increase in the allowances granted to senior citizens, persons with disabilities, students under the Student Assistance Program (SAP), barangay tanods, barangay health workers, and solo parents, who are covered under a special program of the city government.
Councilor Elgin Damasco said the increase is possible considering the additional revenue that the city government is expected to receive.
“Alam natin, limitado ang pondo ng ating lokal na pamahalaan. Ngunit ngayong taon, at sa mga susunod pa, alam din natin na malaki na ang matatanggap na internal revenue allotment ng syudad. Mula mahigit tatlong bilyon, magiging mahigit limang milyon na kada taon, kaya alam ko walang imposible sa kagustuhan nating lahat na madagdagan itong mga allowances na ito,” Damasco said in his privilege during the City Council’s session on Monday.
“Sa mahal ng mga bilihin ngayon, mga maintenance medicines, tiyak na ikatutuwa ng ating mga lolo’t lola, ng ating mga kababayang may kapansanan, kung matataasan natin kahit magkano ang tinatanggap nilang allowance mula sa city government of Puerto Princesa,” he added.
Damasco also sought the inclusion of all elementary and high school students in the SAP, which caters only to those from rural barangays.
“Ang ating mga estudyante mula sa elementarya at highschool, alam nating ibabalik na ang face-to-face classes – kailangan na ring maibalik ang student assistance program at sana, madagdagan din ang allowances na ito na tinatanggap nila. Napag-alaman din natin na hindi lahat ng elementary at high school students ay nabibigyan. May mga paaralan na nandito sa city proper ang hindi naisasama sa student assistance program,” he said.
He echoed the same sentiment over the increase in allowances for barangay tanods and barangay health workers, who worked as frontline responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also said solo parents have Vice Mayor Nancy Socrates and Councilor Victor Oliveros to thank for the ordinance they authored for them to have a P5,000 annual allowance.
He then proposed the adoption of a resolution “requesting Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron through the City Budget Office or through the Local Finance Committee (LFC) to conduct a study for the possible increase of allowance/incentives/honorarium of senior citizens, persons with disability, Student Assistance Program, Barangay Health Workers, Barangay Tanod, and Solo Parents Assistance Program beneficiaries of the city government of Puerto Princesa.
He added that once the City Budget Office or the LFC has submitted the study, they can tackle amendments to the ordinance that covers the program.
Councilor Roy Gregorio Ventura also pushed for a study for the grant of a regular salary for barangay tanods and health workers instead of the monthly honoraria they are currently receiving.
“Ang senior citizens at PWD, wala tayong magagawa, talagang allowance lang yan. Merong nanggagaling sa national na pondo, meron din galing sa LGU. Wala nang panahon, pero mas maganda kung may ordinansa ng pagbibigay ng fixed (sweldo,) parang sa job order at casual employees, nagbibigay tayo ng P11,000, sana lahat sila ganun din,” Ventura explained.
Councilor Nesario Awat, on the other hand, proposed the allocation of a budget for a micro-finance loan to aid small businessmen, particularly those engaged in tourism businesses who were also affected by typhoon Odette.
“Napakahalaga na maglaan tayo ng malaking pondo para sa ating mga kababayan na makakatulong lalong-lalo na sa maliliit na negosyante na papautangin ng walang tubo, lalo na yung mga kooperatiba na kung saan, yung mga miyembro nila ay pwedeng mangutang sa kanilang kooperatiba, at ang kooperatiba naman ay makakautang sa city government ng walang tubo,” Awat said.
“Kaya nga sa itinaas ng ating budget na P1.3 billion because of the Mandanas doctrine, it’s about time na yung mga bagay na ito ay pagtuunan din ng pansin,” he explained.
He also proposed the passage of a resolution to request the City Budget Officer or the LFC for a study on the possibility of establishing a micro-finance program for the tourism sector in the City of Puerto Princesa.
The two resolutions were approved during the session.