Duterte’s Davao - Part 6
Davao's order and cleanliness continue to elate even its residents.
What was Davao City like when President Rody Duterte served its residents as Mayor? What were the social issues that the public grappled with, and how did the local leaders respond? Are there parallelisms between then and now? Below are extracts from “Through the Years,” an unpublished anthology of select editorials of the Mindanao Daily Mirror, somewhere between 2003-2011.
# 16 - What a relief
Finally, Rody Duterte put his foot down and said he couldn’t take down David.
Which is just as well. David was a non-issue to begin with. Some councilors had woken up one morning and decided that a replica of David, Michaelangelo’s original masterpiece, standing proudly on a beachfront, was lewd.
Since the statue was erected a stone’s throw away from motel old-timer Queensland, this all the more added to its impurity, or so the logic went.
Desperate to legitimize their sentiments, the same councilors also charged that the statue was standing on illegal property.
Well, they couldn’t have taken their case to the worst fellow: Duterte—who knew his law, and who obviously knew the moralists from the truly moral.
Number one, he said, if the lot that David was posing on was illegal, then the rest of the stretch was likely illegal as well. In which case, all the other buildings would have to be torn down.
That, he stressed, he wouldn’t stand for, as it would mean economically displacing hundreds of people.
As to the part about David standing next to Queensland, hizzoner’s terse “So what?” was all it took to drive home the point. (December18, 2005)
# 17 - The city gears up
In a decision hardly noticed by the public last November, members of the City Council approved on first reading the city’s investment plan, otherwise known as the Medium-Term Development Plan, which cost taxpayers nearly P3.7 billion. Such a plan was a virtual collection of budget proposals for 2008-2010 from the various City Hall departments and national government agencies.
Local leaders say that the plan is a blueprint for enticing investors to put their confidence—and their money—into the city. Davao has been called everything from the Wild, Wild West to the land of bountiful harvests, but never as a serious destination for tourists and investors. To be fair, neither has been the country. For all its pretensions, the tourism department only managed to lasso in 2.8 million visitors last year. Vietnam outdid us with 3 million tourists. How’s that for competing with a tiny erstwhile war-devastated country?
So a P3.7 billion kitty for investments doesn’t sound too bad. What may be a bit odd is the fact that the allocation for economic development was only P189.94 million. Social development was even bigger, perhaps even a tad too large for an investment plan to accommodate, at P588.8 million.
That leaves infrastructure, which gobbled up the biggest slice of the pie at P2.64 billion. That’s a lot of dough for roads and bridges, drainage, electrification, and water systems. We can only hope that indeed, such projects are put firmly in place. For if there is a role that government must continue to play, it is to provide the policy and infrastructure environment for private investments to come in. (December 18, 2007)
# 18 - Boom
What does Davao have that makes it the envy of most Philippine cities? Is it its beaches and cool mountain resorts? Is it its abundant fruits? Is it its peace and order? Probably all of the above, plus this: its favorable business climate.
At least two of the country’s top developers are putting up mega projects in the city. Ayala Land and Robinson’s Land Corp. are poised to build sprawling business and entertainment centers in Lanang. Ayala Land is linking up with Anflocor Investment and Development Corp. in developing a nine-hectare property, while Robinson’s Land Corp. is building a mall along the same area.
Apprised of these developments, Mayor Duterte has said that such private investments should be “tempered with proper city planning.” He was quoted to have declared that the city government had to do its share “to maintain the viability of the city as an investment haven.”
What that could have simply meant was for local officials to anticipate the implications of economic growth. Dramatic urban transformation necessarily impacts on livelihood, in-migration of labor, energy and water requirements, and the environment. Traffic alone, the most visible effect of a robust economy, will expectedly worsen without proactive legislation.
Only last month, the Asian Institute of Management named us the country’s Most Competitive City. That’s a distinction not to be sneezed at, but only if we remain to be responsible citizens who value the quality of our lives as much as we pander to our own consumerist whims. (July 21, 2008)