DAVAO CITY (Mindanews / 10 October) — In July 2017, the Davao Shrine Hills Advocates criticized the lack of coordination among government agencies with regards to both Shrine Hills slope protection and the Diversion Road widening.
In response, Dean Ortiz, the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) spokesman, maintained that, if the local government unit would identify slope protection as among its major projects around Shrine Hills, DPWH would readily comply if it was within the national agency’s mandate.
Slope protection, he added, was under the agency’s regular budget. At the same time, Ortiz said, the landslide was an expected effect of the road work. Ortiz said DPWH had applied for a certification of exemption from the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) for the road project.
What is this? If the DPWH cares, why apply for a certificate of exemption? If the DENR cares, why give a certificate of exemption when DENR’s own Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau had declared the slopes highly susceptible to landslides ages ago (2009)?
If the City cares, why didn’t they stress the importance of slope protection to DPWH in line with their having declared Shrine Hills as an Urban Ecological Enhancement Subzone to be protected at all times and they only acted when the slides started moving?
If the City cares why did it not prevent people from living on the lower portions of the slopes?
If the City cares why did it not prevent major constructions at the top of the landslides, constructions and walls that are likely to tumble down sooner rather than later?
[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Arnold Vandenbroeck of Green Davao Coalition has been a resident of the Philippines in the last three decades, two of that in Davao City. He finished his MS in sociology at the Asian Social Institute in Manila and MS Social Work at IPSOC Belgium. Vandenbroeck is evaluator of rural development projects for Europe-based funding agencies, consultant in Result Based Management and Outcome Mapping. He is also passionate about environmental care and is a board member of IDIS (Interface Development Interventions), Save Davao Shrine Hills advocate. He manages the family’s indigenous tree farm in Baguio District. This piece was first published on his FB page. With permission to reprint).