By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Mayor Alfredo ” Albee” Benitez on Monday said he will use his own money to fund the repair and renovation of the City Mayor’s Office on the fourth floor of the Bacolod City Government Center (BCGC).
Benitez made the move on the heels of a negative public reaction to the proposed P16-million budget to spruce up his office.
“I am not comfortable with it,” Benitez said in a press conference in reaction to social media brickbats.
He said he is not used to becoming the “issue” to the point that the P16-million renovation of the Mayor’s Office was deemed as a form of personal gain on his part.
Critics had scored Benitez for the planned office renovation, describing it as extravagant.
He said he also came across a social media post about a female restroom in one of the city government offices that has no door but was instead covered with a curtain.
The mayor then decided that the funds for the office renovation will be used to repair public toilets.
“Actually, I have been thinking about it during the weekend, so barring all legal impediments, I am redirecting the P16 million budget to repair the public toilets of the city and instead use my personal funds for the renovation of my office,” Benitez said.
He pointed out though that the renovation, which has already started, passed through all the necessary processes.
“The city councilors are here, they approved it,” he added.
He said the City Engineering Office drafted the budget estimate and it does not even include the furniture, which he said he would procure using his personal funds.
“It is not something nga ginpakot ta lang (It was not something we guessed),” he said, adding that the BCGC is almost 15 years old “so a lot has to be upgraded, repaired and improved.”
“I am spending my own personal money to make sure that there will be no issues,” Benitez said.
He further said that as a working mayor, he finds the premises too small “so we need to expand the office that would include office staff and support facilities to ensure effective flow of government transactions.”
“It is not as if this is my office, although I am there, but this is for the city to be proud of, this will be the face, the image of the city,” Benitez said.
He further said that “kanami man nga may diutay nga upgrading sa aton office kadamo na problema, dugang pa sang atmosphere kay ka dulom.”
Benitez further said whatever renovation and furniture that will be undertaken and procured using his money will be left behind to the next mayor and he will not bring anything with him when he leaves office.