The national law requires subdivision developers to allocate 30 percent for open spaces but the Davao City Council enacted a landmark ordinance requiring an additional 10 percent green space. The same Council, with the exception of a few, changed their minds after a year or two, and decided to do away with the mandatory 10 percent green space and instead, incorporated that to the national law requirement. Several councilors claim they were doing Dabawenyos a favor because imposing the additional 10 percent green space is an added cost to the developers that has resulted to an increase in the price of housing units which poor people—to include office workers who get a meager salary of less than P10,000 a month—could not afford. They said the amendment to the zoning ordinance is favorable to these poor people who slave their lives away just to get poor-quality low cost housing. Of course, developers of high-end subdivisions allocate more than 30 percent for their open and green spaces because the houses are more expensive.
We have this feeling of dread, listening to these councilors who keep on justifying their actions in approving the amendment. Instead of penalizing and mandating developers to stick to their promises when they pre-sell the lots, regardless if it is low cost or high-end, this body opted to penalize the poor people who live in low cost subdivisions. The moral of the story is that, if you are poor then you don’t deserve breathing space. Where is social justice in this argument? And we thought that the members of this body consisting of supposedly honorable men and women were elected by the people to make sure that the people they serve get social justice. The argument that the Council did not remove the 10 percent green space but made it better by incorporating it in the 30 percent open space and mandating the developers how to utilize that space is obviously a mantra they have memorized to justify their acts.
Watershed advocacy group Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) begged to disagree and slammed Councilor Bernard Al-ag for saying that the 10 percent green space requirement is ‘anti-poor’ since it will make developers build high-rise subdivisions instead of social housing. This statement, according to IDIS, “smacks of elitism; even poor families living in low cost subdivisions have a right to greenery in their communities.” (MINDANAO DAILY MIRROR)