City councilor Peter "Jimbo" Maristela during the council's regular session on November 16.

City Councilor Peter “Jimbo” Maristela wants students and teachers prioritized in the P15-million Financial Assistance Program (FAP) allocated to the city’s welfare department, which is part of the approved 2021 Supplemental Budget amounting to more than P216-million.

The supplemental budget was approved on September 27 during the City Council’s 110th regular session in Barangay San Rafael.

Maristela said that this fund will assist struggling students who are now having online or modular classes.

“Marami sa kanilang mga magulang nawalan ng trabaho dahil sa pandemya, marami rin tayong natatanggap na request sa mga schools para makabili ng printer at iba pang gamit sa modular classes,” Maristela said in an interview on Monday.

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The previous P45-million budget for the city government’s Students Assistance Program, which gives 200 pesos allowance for each students for public schools, was removed from the city government’s 2021 regular budget and placed in the 2021 supplemental budget. The program was removed because face-to-face classes were suspended in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Maristela said that his office noticed that the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) was allocated P15-million in the supplemental budget.

“Doon naman sa na-aprubahang supplemental budget noong 110th session sa Barangay San Rafael, nakita namin na mayroong P15-million na allocated sa CSWDO, ang purpose noon ay various cash assistance programs. Bahala ang CSWDO kung saan gagamitin. Kaya naisip natin na baka puwede pa ‘yon ihabol this year para sa mga estudyante at pati na rin sa mga teachers,” he added.

Maristela also called for a question hour with the CSWDO during his availing of the privilege hour of the City Council on Monday. He stated during a speech that this will determine if the P15-million fund can be diverted instead to helping students and teachers in need.

In the same speech, Maristela also called for an inquiry with the City Mayor’s Office to see if the department’s financial assistance programs in the mini city halls, which are located in rural barangays, can be simplified for the convenience of the indigent.

“Kapag mayroong nangangailangan, halimbawa, may namatay o na-ospital, kailangan pa dalhin ng deputy mayor ang mga papeles dito sa City Hall para ma-aprubahan. Kaya gusto rin nating malaman kung puwedeng doon na lang sa mini city hall ang pagbigay ng assistance. At lalaki rin kasi ang supplemental budget ng City Mayor’s Office this year, P35-million na,” Maristela said.

Schools in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and the entire MIMAROPA region remain closed because the Department of Education (DepEd) has yet to reopen elementary and secondary levels nationwide. Though selected schools in “low-risk” areas of the country were allowed to conduct face-to-face classes on Monday, this was only for a pilot test.

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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.