(File photo)

City councilor Peter “Jimbo” Maristela on Monday called for an inquiry on the status of the P250-million financial assistance budget set aside by the city government for victims of Typhoon Odette.

Maristela claimed that based on the budget the Council had approved for financial assistance, the recipients were to be given between P5,000 to P10,000 as they had intended. However, the actual cash aid being handed out to typhoon victims is P3,000 per affected family.

“Ang paliwanag sa atin dito ni Ma’am [Lydia] del Rosario, ng CSWD (City Social Welfare and Development) noong inaprubahan natin ito noong Special Session, bibigyan ng P5,000 naman ang mga may-ari ng partially damaged na bahay at P10,000 pesos naman sa mga totally damaged. Ngunit, ating napag-alaman na P3,000 lamang ang naibigay ng City Government, partially o totally damaged na bahay,” Maristela said in a privilege speech.

Maristela also claimed that most recipients of the aid were those from the northern barangays, but those badly affected in the city proper were not included in the list.

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“Ang basehan ng binigyan ay ang listahan ng ‘Ugnayan sa Barangay.’ Kung ang listahan sa Ugnayan ang pinagbabasehan, ito ay para lamang sa mga rural barangays. Hindi dito kasama ang mga barangay sa poblacion na naapektuhan din ng bagyo, lalo na sa mga coastal areas,” he said.

Maristela called for a question hour with the CSWDO and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO). His request was referred to the Committee of the Whole by fellow City Councilor Roy Ventura. Maristela also stated that the city government does not have P250-million for relief aid, but only P4-million left in the city government’s calamity fund.

“Ang ulat sa atin ng ating budget officer ay P4 million na lamang ang natitira sa ating calamity fund, at talagang hindi ito kakasya sa laki ng pinsala ng nagdaang bagyo,” he said.

Aside from the differing cash aid amounts, Maristela also stated there have been complaints from families who have not received any aid because of technicalities.

“Ang nangyari, marami tayong natanggap na reklamo. Halimbawa, kapag nilipad ng bagyo ang yero o bubungan ng bahay mo at naayos mo ito, bago pa ang validation, at hindi mo pa nakuhanan ng picture, hindi ka qualified,” he said.

“Marami sa ating mga kababayan ang nagrereklamo dahil napakabagal daw ng pagbibigay ng ayuda ng city government, lalo na sa pagkain para sa mga naging biktima ng bagyo. Marami na rin ang nagrereklamo na hanggang sa ngayon ay hindi nakatanggap ng ayuda mula sa city government,” he added.

City administrator explains changes
Palawan News sought comment from lawyer Arnel Pedrosa, city administrator, on the supposed changes to the approved cash aid amounts. Pedrosa stated that the change was because the funds were reportedly insufficient but the need was urgent and was adjusted to a smaller amount.

“Hindi kakayanin ng pondo ang initial but urgent aid, may mga susunod pa naman siguro,” he said in a text message.

“Computed ‘yan according sa number ng mga reported na apektado ng calamity as collated and reported by CDRRMO, CSWDO at iba pa. Same data forwarded sa national government. Depende din sa availability of fund at the time of reporting at dahil urgent ang pangangailangan ay urgent din ang decision,” he added.

Likewise, CSWDO chief Lydia del Rosario also stated that they followed the mayor’s directives and were not aware that the City Council had a different amount approved. She also stated that they had just finished disbursing the cash aid to affected residents in the north, but have yet to disburse aid for residents in the city proper.

“Hindi kami aware na mayroong ibang amounts, pero nabigay na rin [ang P3,000] doon sa eight barangays. Pero sa urban, wala pa, hindi pa naibibigay,” she said in a phone call.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.