DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 July) – Various groups have thrown support behind the decision of City Mayor Sara Duterte to terminate the joint venture agreement (JVA) that her father, then city mayor and now President Rodrigo R. Duterte, signed with Mega Harbour Port Development, Inc. last year for the P40-billion worth 200-hectare Davao Coastline and Port Development Project.
Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) acting executive director Chinkie Pelino-Golle told MindaNews that she believes the mayor has better plans for the development of the city that will take into consideration social issues and ensure environmental sustainability.
“We have been apprehensive of this proposed project because of the social and environmental implications in which were not addressed in the committee hearings and content of the ordinance passed by the city council,” she said.
Golle lauded the local chief executive for taking the time to review the project’s economic viability and environmental sustainability.
“After all, she is the mayor of the city and she should decide for the people and for the future of this city. I believe she has studied this carefully and found valid reasons for her to decide like this. I trust her statement that her decision is for the benefit of the majority of the Dabawenyos,” she added.
Last Tuesday, Duterte announced that she reached out to the proponent, Mega Harbour Port and Development Corporation, that the city will no longer proceed with the project.
“The decision came after about more than a year of careful review and study of the available documents and after weighing out the intentions of the project against its commercial viability, legal and social implications, and the project’s possible effects to the environment,” the mayor said.
Duterte said the decision to terminate the joint venture agreement is coupled with a resolve so “Davao City can really move forward and answer the call of economic growth by implementing highly sustainable projects, both commercially and environmentally.”
She said the city government is ready to answer the various legal repercussions over her decision.
“I assure you, all Dabawenyos, that in coming up with this decision, the paramount consideration has been your welfare and the future of Davao City,” Duterte said.
Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) president Ronald Go said he believes the mayor acted in a manner wherein they felt that the best interests of the city and its people will be upheld.
“I can only speculate that several issues were considered here. Environmental concerns, possible future traffic problems and limited area given to the city in exchange for the approval of the project,” he said.
In a statement Wednesday, Progressive group Bayan secretary-general Sheena Duazo also lauded the decision to terminate the JVA with Mega Harbour.
“Bayan, along with urban poor organization Kadamay and Panalipdan SMR, have been consistently opposing the said project due to threats of demolition of communities along coastal areas,” she said.
She said they feared that if the project pushes through, it will result in massive displacement of the urban poor that would also mean displacement from their livelihood.
“Our utmost concerns about environmental effect were also considered by Mayor Sara in terminating the project, which is a welcome move,” Duazo said.
“The move to terminate this project is also a wake up call to all our legislators and government agencies who approved this project. They must foremost ensure that amidst and above all big business interests, environmental interest must not be gambled,” she added. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)