Editorial: The cost of greed and apathy-A A +A
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
CLASSES were again suspended yesterday as more and heavier rainfall threatened. Homes were washed away and others flooded upto the roofs, rendering as junk everything in them except clothes that can still be washed.
Hundreds of families have to make do with the cold cement floor of school and barangay gyms. People living along riversides get easily spooked when clouds darken. It is no longer as it was before, when rains were welcomed because of the cool bed sheets that beckon.
We only have to look around us to see why.
Right along the mighty Davao River are houses right by the riverbanks, while amid the green leaves of mangrove trees are more houses. Mangrove stands are supposed to be off limits to habitation, but houses are there.
Of course, we have the Jade Valley and Juliville Subdivisions to show how housing officials can look the other way for as long as the so-called development are promised. After two decades, man’s greed is exposed.
From geologists we learned that a few years back, the Association of Filipinos for the Advancement of Geoscience Inc. (Afag) recommended to the national government that all zoning and land use plans be based on geo-hazard maps. We don’t know if such recommendation ever reached our city. For one, the city’s zoning and land use ordinance has long been outdated and never been amended. Spot zoning is still the rule, and many a councilor has been rumored to have earned a lot because of this.
Now investors are coming in big droves, and all we can show for it is a flooded city.
We can always blame climate change, but most of all, we can blame ourselves for short-sightedness and greed. The warning about climate change has been raised since the 1990s when it was then known as global warming and the main concern was the thinning of the ozone layer. No one took heed. Ordinances that intended to address these are conveniently shelved, ignored: the Water Resource Ordinance, the Watershed Management Ordinance, the Bike Lane Ordinance, even the Rainwater Collection. They are all brushed aside, too inconvenient to implement, too tedious to start on.
Instead, we welcome all investors never mind if they cement over hectares upon hectares of land without coming up with any viable solution to the water they are displacing and the communities they are going to flood. In between, we look the other way as people build houses in mangrove areas and riversides. While local officials approve land development plans with a premium on who’s asking to develop it and whose land is it, rather than how will this impact the already scarce resources and vulnerable environment we have.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 23, 2013.