Rough Cuts: A city initiative that must succeed

News report: Davao still among top five competitive PH cities. And it’s getting better, or so the same report says.

Well, it should be. It would be one big insult if Davao City did not make it to the top five because it already has produced a President of the country and sitting at that. Such feat can only be indicative of how the city was, and is still run. Besides, the current leader of the city, while charting her own direction and strategy in making her political journey, she has the opportunity to have started her “Byaheng” on a platform solidly laid by her father predecessor. That definitely makes Mayor Sara’s travel much lighter.

So, our congratulations to the City Mayor and her team for, again, leading Davao to that illustrious finish in what could be a race to greatness in local government administration performance.

But we have no doubt every Davaoeno aspires to have his/her city eventually leading the pack in the race of most competitive Philippine cities under the highly urbanized category. We do not believe our Davao cannot beat cities like Quezon, Manila, and Pasay.

But we are just wondering why Makati City has not been mentioned in the news report. Has that local government unit gone to the level that its standing has become so high it should not be included in the competition?

Anyhow, for Davao to be consistent in the top five ranking since the award was instituted by the Department of Trade and Industry is already a major achievement in itself. How much more if it can outrank the others in the list and makes it to Number One?

Meanwhile, even as our leaders endeavor to bring our city to the top of the pack may be it is worth their time finding out where the city’s weaknesses are; in what aspect or aspects. Finding those weaknesses and addressing the same may just be the ticket needed to move to the highest notch in the competition.

As the saying goes, it’s nice to be a bridesmaid; but it’s much nicer to become a bride.

***

There is this initiative undertaken by Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio in close collaboration with the military forces operating in Paquibato district. It is called Peace 911. It is a program that the lady mayor believes could be an effective vehicle to bring development to the hinterlands of Paquibato, an area most affected by the decades old communist insurgency in Davao City.

Prior to the program it was evident that the local government has a hard time bringing development projects to the area. Primarily, this is because of the distance of the upland communities located in Paquibato districts and a part of Calinan to the center of the city. And this apparent isolation of the place had seemingly allowed the insurgents to gain a strong foothold in the area.

Thus, development in the Paquibato hinterlands has been stalled and if there are projects that can be eventually brought there, the distance as well as the lack of communications facilities effectively give the rebels the opportunity to conduct misinformation leading to the people’s misunderstanding of the government intention.

Remember some Lumad groups suddenly becoming advocates for the pullout of military troopers in the area because they are terrorizing the residents there? We wonder if they would be acting as such if the actions of the military and the local government were backed with appropriate and correct information effectively given to the upland residents.

Example of infrastructure projects that the government has brought to the hinterland communities that should have been welcomed by the residents are roads and bridges. How are their construction purpose being peddled? The communicators of the rebel groups tell the hinterland residents these projects are intended to give the military easy access to the uplands; that these are part of the preparation of the government to allow large extractive businesses to take over Paquibato lands for their own greedy intentions.

Many would probably raise eyebrows on these our assertions. But we can only lead the skeptics among us to recall a recent burning incident of some P60 million worth of road construction equipment in the uplands of Callawa leading to Paquibato.

Why were there no efforts on the part of the residents in the area to plead with the rebels not to destroy the equipment as these would be a major help in the faster completion of the road project?
There could only be one reason and that is, the residents in the upland village may have been fully convinced a new and better road is not what they need; that it would be to their detriment.

With the Peace 911 Program we feel that it would have greater chances of succeeding in its objective if a comprehensive community-based information, education and communication component be included and implemented in the most understandable manner.

And such communication program must be structured based on the perspective of the people in the upland communities vis-à-vis what information they are fed.

Without this communication component we can be certain the city’s and military’s Peace 911 is doomed to fail.

Posted in Opinion