Davao City’s “Green Champion” passes away

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 December) – Councilor Leonardo Avila, “Happy LA” to his radio listeners and described by an environmental group as “one of the city’s first champions for a greener Davao,” passed away Sunday dawn. He was 58.

Avila, councilor for seven terms — from 1988 to 1998, 2001 to 2010, and 2013 until his death – served as officer in charge of the City Agriculturist Office from 2010 to 2013. suffered a stroke in September.

Ann Fuertes, executive director of the Interface Development Intervention, Inc. (IDIS) described Avila as “one of city’s first champions for a greener Davao.”

Councilor Leo o;pr Councilor Leonardo Avila, “Davao’s Green Champion.”  Photo from Avila’s FB account
Councilor Leonardo Avila, “Davao’s Green Champion.” Photo from Avila’s FB account

“At a time when environmental issues did not yet figure prominently in the lens of our city’s policymakers, he set the tone and agenda for the City Council to look into protecting our watersheds as a way of ensuring a greener future for Davao City,” Fuertes said in a press release.

“We call on Dabawenyos to join us in honoring Davao’s green champion for the last time. Leo may have left us but the vision of a Green Davao will continue to endure. There is no better way for us to honor Leo’s life than by continuing to work for the realization of the vision of a Greener Davao for all,” she said.

Avila’s remains lie at the Sardinia, Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes and will be transferred to the Sangguniang Panlungsod on December 22. Cremation is scheduled on December 23.

Avila left behind a legacy of legislations addressing the welfare concerns of the city, such as the Davao City Children’s Welfare Code in 1994 which is the first in the country, and Elderly Welfare Code. Avila.

But it is in the realm of environmental protection and management that Avila was closely associated with.

Before his stroke, IDIS said Avila was working with them on the formulation of the Environment Code of Davao City.

Mon Salas, IDIS Board of Trustees member and environmental lawyer said Avila was a “good partner” of environment groups pushing for a sustainable city.

“While he faced challenges and resorted to compromises, Leo strongly worked to make Davao as green as possible through the ordinances he advocated in the City Council. These local laws will be his lasting legacies,” Salas said.

Among the green ordinances that Avila authored or co-sponsored were The Anti-Smoke Belching Ordinance (2006), the Ban Aerial Spray Ordinance (2009), the Watershed Code (2007), the Establishment of Marine Protected Areas (2007), the Fisheries Code (2008), the Rainwater Ordinance (2009), Ecological Solid Waste Management Ordinance (2010), Septage and Sewerage Management Ordinance (2010), Organic Agriculture Ordinance (2010) and the Bicycle Ordinance (2010).

Long before the Department of Interior and Local Government issued a Memorandum Order for LGUs to make their own action plan related to climate change, Avila had already organized the Davao Climate Change Action Network, a coalition of government and non-government organizations as well as individuals.  DavCCAN is engaged in activities that raise awareness of the impact and possible mitigating actions to respond to increasing temperature and the unpredictability of weather.

Avila built a strong network of partners by continuously initiating projects and programs that are advocating awareness and action from relevant organizations and the public in general.

He pushed for a “Davao Gulf Week” for a coastal clean-up involving barangays along the coast, and the Flight of the Eagle series, a biking event that adopts a different environment theme every year.

In 2009, he led the first Davao Living Arts Festival, which got artists and cultural workers involved in paying homage to the environment, with the Davao Gulf as central focus.

In 2010, he was lead convenor of “Run for Water” in Davao City and was part of the Steering Committee of the Davao City’s yearly “Earth Hour” event. (MindaNews)