ROUGH CUTS| What’s going on at Isla Verde fire-hit area?

IT’S ALREADY July, or roughly one year and three months since the disastrous fire leveled off thousands of houses at Isla Verde along Quezon Blvd., Davao City. The fire gutted so huge an area that by the time it was over any by-stander positioning himself at the Magsaysay Park can see the massive space left vacant up to the boundaries of the neighboring barangays.

The cost of devastation and the subsequent provision of relief assistance to the victims of the fire sent City Hall skimping its available resources just to respond to the immediate needs of the displaced families.

Based on the actions taken by the city officials in the days following the fire, we assumed that the local government executives wanted that never again will they allow the area to be vulnerable to fire that it used to be.

Thus, the city through the mayor, created a task force to craft a new development plan for the fire-ravaged area. One of the first steps adopted was to restrain the fire victims from rebuilding their houses where they used to be.

In other words, it was mandated by the city that the fire victims remain where they relocate temporarily while the local government is exploring ways on how to develop the fire hit area.

Meanwhile, the task force created by the mayor seemed to be deep in their thoughts in coming out with a development scheme that it will recommend for adoption.

Apparently, the task force seems hard put in coming out with a plan. Of course we can understand considering certain restrictions on the use of the Isla Verde and adjoining areas. Then President Joseph Estrada has issued a Proclamation making the said place solely for residential purpose and no others.

In the interregnum though, there were pronouncements by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that a Malaysian property developer has offered to develop the place converting it into a mixed residential-commercial and light industrial enclave.

That proposal, to us, is one complete package for the most desired sustainable development process. The commercial-industrial infrastructures will provide the fire victims with job opportunities while the residential buildings will offer them new homes right in the area that they used to live.

Of course the Malaysian proposal has to contend with the biggest hurdle – the Estrada presidential proclamation.

Following the disclosure of the Malaysian property developer’s intention however, a deafening silence followed.

The task force has not made any new statement as to the status of the development plan the mayor asked it to craft. And City Hall has so far not updated the public on the Malaysian proposal.

Meanwhile, we are already seeing new housing structures rising in the fire hit area. And it is clear the victims themselves are doing the construction their own way.

So, what else can we expect but the area going back to its old fire-prone situation.

Can we be blamed for entertaining the idea that while Mayor Duterte is very busy with his advocacy for Federalism (or call it “testing the waters” for a possible presidential run in 2016) some of his trusted men are also sleeping on their job?


News headline: New Army chief vows to end insurgency.

What a nebulous dream this 2-star general Eduardo Ano has in openly saying that he will end the decades old insurgency problem in the country.

How is he doing to do it, order the Philippine Army to launch massive offensive against the insurgents which we assume he means the New People’s Army or NPA only? And by wiping out insurgency does the new army chief mean he will order the soldiers to kill every individual they suspect to be members or supporters of the insurgency movement?

Frankly, we cannot understand why so many military men who are given the opportunity to move to the top of the hierarchy refuse to understand that ending insurgency is not the function of the armed forces. It is the primary responsibility of the government.

Time and again social scientists and experiences of governments all over the world show that insurgency is rooted in ideology. And adopting an ideology is brought about by prevailing circumstances that make people vulnerable to accepting it. The most common of these circumstances, and exactly the ones prevalent in the Philippines, are massive poverty of the people and the inequality and injustice they have experienced at one time or another in their lives.

Can General Ano commit to address the above-mentioned social ills? If he can, then he can end insurgency even without firing a single bullet.


Posted in Opinion