Rough Cuts | Are our dads playing proxies?

SO THE city council has junked the applications for sand and gravel quarrying by five entities? We could only imagine the interest of the public much more the media in knowing what was or were expected to happen during the May 22 Sangguniang Panlungsod session where the applications were to be deliberated and voted upon.Yes, even us, if we were aware that such proposed action was to be taken up on that particular session, we would have attended the same. Imagine the voting on the applications was done on nominal basis where each councilor was allowed to explain his/her vote! And what lengthy explanations they made with some members of the council earlier in the deliberation heatedly putting forward their objection because of some questionable issues such as unmet requirements still unsettled. Yet, while entertaining the idea of abstaining some of them voted to approve the gravel and earth-fill quarry applications!

In the end though, in the words of this paper’s headline last Wednesday, the applications for permits to quarry were “crushed” by the city council.

But we have a different take on the issue. We believe that the bugaboo in the Sanggunian on the quarry applications could be a “proxy war.” That is, the “war” between the existing quarry operators and those who want to cash in on the huge potentials for quarry products under the present administration.

Yes, the current quarry operators in the city want to lord it over in the supply of earth fill, sand and gravel, and other aggregates needed in the present administration’s “Build, build, build” program some projects of which are on-going in Davao City. The coastal highway project alone would need so huge volume of quarry materials for its completion. Then there is the forthcoming Phase 1 of the Mindanao Railway System that will cover a stretch of 103 kilometers from Tagum City to Digos City via Davao City.

We therefore have some wild thoughts that the positions of the members of the city council may have been “influenced” by those who are already in the quarry business or by those who are aspiring to take advantage of the opportunity to have a share in supplying the requirements of the government’s massive infrastructure project implementation in the country a big bulk of which will be done in the Davao Region.

Well, let us wait and see. After all, last Tuesday’s rejection of the five quarry applicants could just be some kind of initial setback. Why, because some councilors themselves have made it known that the rejected applicants can still re-apply.

Isn’t it that the reason of the non-approval of the applications is due to questions on legal basis?

Well now, the first round goes to the existing quarry operators. Will the newcomers just allow themselves to be floored immediately? The potentials for quarry materials are so enticing under the present regime. So, we can be certain that they’ll be up before the bell rings for a second round.

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Compliance of billboard requirements for infrastructure projects is actually not totally ignored by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) or the City Engineer’s Office (CEO).  But in all billboards that we have seen installed in strategic locations there are critical information that are not indicated. And if these are, they are enough factors to create intrigues.

We have these billboards on infrastructure projects as examples. In Catalunan Grande where there is an on-going road expansion project, we have noticed several billboards installed. But what is revealed there is the name of the contractor, the date of the start of the project and its supposed completion which was last January, 2018 or already over four months ago. But conspicuously not included on the billboard notice is the amount of the contract and the budget for the project.

Another billboard of an infrastructure project is that one in front of Davao City Special National High School in Bangkal. It is a project of the City government of Davao and implemented by the CEO. Yes, it has the figure of the budget for the three-storey nine-classroom building amounting to P16 million. But what caught our attention was the contract price which was just short of the budget by a few hundred pesos and centavos. And we have similar observations on billboards we saw installed in other school building projects.

Somehow it would appear that the bidders are winning in pesos and centavos only. Isn’t this phenomenon intriguing?

Posted in Opinion