DAVAO CITY – Environment group Sustainable Davao City Movement (SDCM) calls for transparency in the implementation of the P39-billion Mega Harbour project.
“We are asking for a broader comprehensive consultation about it, in order for us to really understand the issue, since we were not invited to the committee hearings,” said SDCM member and Interface Development Intervention, Inc. (IDIS) Executive Director Mary Ann Fuertes.
The Davao Mega Harbour and Port Development Project, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last month, aims to address the challenges of the community for access to potable water and power supply, well-planned road network that allows free flow of vehicular movement and pedestrian safety and access to facilities that abate calamities like flood and storm surges.
Fuertes told Mirror that as advocates for sustainable environment in this city they were asked about their stand on the said project, however, they were not able to raise their reaction because they were only updated on the project after the committee hearing.
“Wala din kaming (We also do not have) idea about its coverage and its detailed project description thus we can’t also intelligently comment especially on their mitigating measures. One thing for sure it would have different environment and socio economic impact,” she said.
Fuertes said a big project like this would definitely have an impact on the environment and on the communities surrounding the proposed site. As an environmental group, she said that IDIS is concerned about the risk to the surrounding coastal ecosystem due to the reclamation needs of the project.
“Whether it would be good or bad, is something we cannot say since we do not have any idea about the project. Were there marine biology experts in the committee hearings to check out the project design and their proposed mitigating measures for the identified impacts?” she asked.
Fuertes also said that the other member-organizations of the SDCM have similarly voiced out other concerns, ranging from dislocation of urban poor communities and families to the displacement of livelihoods.
“These concerns could have been addressed had all stakeholders been invited to the committee hearings so that we could listen to the presentation of the project details,” she said.
“Still, while we are studying the issue, we will continue to remain vigilant. Development projects may be important to boost the city’s economy, but it should not be at the expense of its environment and its urban poor communities,” she said.
The other members of the SDCM include the Ecoteneo, MISSION, Save Davao Shrine Hills Movement, MinLand Foundation, Metsa Foundation and the Bucana Coastal Environment Fisherfolk Association.
The Davao Mega Harbor project is an urban renewal and poverty alleviation program that entails the rationalization of the living condition of about 3,500 families at the coastline communities of poblacion and Agdao District up to Barangay Bucana.
Marcelito Roldan Manalili of Mega Harbour said they have to really do a good job as this is a pet project of the incoming President.
“And besides its going to be a showcase project for Davao and the first major infrastructure project of President Duterte, so definitely all eyes would be on us,” he said.
Manalili said the project is unique not just to spur the economic activity of Davao but also to help uplift the social conditions of the people living along the coastline.
Manalili said they are eyeing two to three years to complete the project. He also said the start of development depends on the approval of the requirements. He said they have to go through the normal approval process because they have to get the approval of Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) that has to go through the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) before they can start the project.
“The coastline of Davao really needs some urban renewal. We have in mind how to improve the area but more than that what we have is a 214 hectares reclamation area, we will have a 70 hectare port and the balance will be a business district,” Manalili said.
Basic facilities and services will be put in place, main roads will be cleared and zoning will be enhanced to allow a free flow of safety and security vehicles. A flood control system and other calamity mitigating measures will form part of the undertaking. Pockets of recreational, commercial, and sanitation centers will be developed to ensure a holistic approach to community development.
“Because of this we expect that it will encourage investments in Davao. What is lacking in Davao is a well centered business district so we positioned this to be one and will generate lots of employment for the people,” Manalili said. (Maya Padillo/Mindanao Daily Mirror)