ROUGH CUTS| A measure worth revisiting

WE CANNOT help but recall the passion with which the late Davao City’s first district councilor Leonardo Avila III undertook his responsibility as chair of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) committee on environment during his term.

One need not conduct an inventory of resolutions and ordinances the late councilor had introduced or authored in the city council that were all intended to mitigate the impact of development on the city’s ecological balance. He was the councilor who spearheaded the efforts to conduct a study on the pollution level of the city’s major rivers. Avila was also the one who championed the rain water harvesting initiative.

We remembered councilor Avila, interviewed by media in the sideline of a tree planting activity, revealed that his committee was working on a resolution that intended to authorize then City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (now President) to sign for and in behalf of the city, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) in connection with the implementation of the Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS). Under the LEDS, according to the late Avila, a participating agency or local government unit could avail of global incentives for carbon credits.

As a requirement, once the MOA is signed, there has to be an audit of the city’s pollution level, the late SP Environment Committee chair added, because it is from the data that the global incentives fund managers will decide what development plan component of the city the money will fit into.

Yes, this aspect on the city’s thrust on protecting its environment is very crucial nowadays. In fact we would look at it as extremely imperative considering the pace of development that Davao City is currently experiencing with the then City Mayor now the President of the Philippines.

As some sectors would love to say, development aggression is taking its toll on society in a much faster pace than what many think. That is why it is no longer surprising to see hills being leveled off in Matina Pangi and in Buhangin-Tigatto-Cabantian areas to give way to residential subdivisions and light industrial sites.

And as more and more industries and commercial establishments locate in Davao City, waves and waves of people from neighboring cities and provinces, as well as those from the city’s own rural communities, come flocking to the downtown area in search for job opportunities. These people too, are not likely to return to their places of origin whether or not they are able to find jobs.

Meanwhile, subdivision developers seeing brighter business opportunity with the influx of migrants to the city are doing everything to get regulatory bodies to approve their property development applications. Thus, the rape of the hills and the subsequent cutting of whatever remaining trees there are continue.

Other than acquisition of land spaces for residential subdivision and industrial purposes, large corporate farming is also eating up a lot of areas once devoted to staple crops like rice, corn, and even coconut. Today there is some kind of a “wild goose chase” for wide tracts of land to plant exportable agricultural products like bananas, pineapple, and of late cacao. The latter crop in fact, is now being substituted to third growth forest in the uplands of Marilog and Paquibato districts.

Yes, Davao City’s development stride is by leaps and bounce; and it is fast encroaching whatever is remaining of the city’s rural and upland areas. The trade-off of course is the rapid disappearance of the trees that we can rely on as massive absorbers of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases that emanate from human, commercial and industrial activities spawned by progress.

So, it is our position that the efforts of the late councilor Avila to goad the city into entering a MOA with MinDA deserve to be revisited. The present City Council should find out what happened to his proposed resolution so that we can undertake the initial activities to get the global incentives fund. The council owes it to the memory of the late environmentalist local lawmaker to pursue what Avila started during his stint. After all the global incentives fund is intended to finance whatever city projects aimed to mitigate the impact of development to the city’s environment.

It’s worth being reminded that in the race to build a sustainable future for the city ignoring what was left behind by a dead colleague could lead to the Davaoenos’ ending up the biggest losers.

Posted in Opinion