Bring on the chainsaws!-A A +A
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
WHAT a cracking idea. OPAs. Overseas Private Armies. There's far too many of their like here in the southern Philippines - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFM), the New People’s Army (NPA), the Abu Sayyaf, countless 'Lost Commands' and any number of 'Kumanders' who fancy a shot with their own rag-tag bands. For years the administration has said it's going to 'clamp down' on private armies - what better way to get rid of them than by shuffling them off to some overseas and foreign land?
Look at the advantages. Malaysian Sabah - so recently 'invaded' by yet another Philippine private army, the so-called 'Royal Sulu Army' - is a well-run, peaceful and prosperous state with a booming tourist industry. In no time at all we could transform the place into a poverty-stricken wasteland of vestigial infrastructure, bickering armed groups and despairing evacuees camped out in covered basketball courts.
And let's not forget the loot. Sabah is doing well, its streets are clean, its uniformed personnel smart and courteous, all achieved by a capable administration which serves the people and we can't have that: think of the cash we can cream off to build official's mansions and palaces; to buy the highest of high-end RUVs and even better, now that it's election year, finance the re-election of the old guard ensuring poverty for all except the ruling elite. Just the job. We've ruined our country, let's ruin someone else's. Anyone fancy Sulawesi?
On Wednesday I was intrigued by the latest in a long line of Camella Northpoint adverts, this one promoting their 'soon to rise commercial and lifestyle center'. There was a helpful artist's perspective of the project - on the extreme right what looked like the old White House; on the left Northpoint's lower entrance and, in the foreground swooping right to left, the southbound sliproad of the J.P Laurel flyover/junction complex. The new development - 'where you can upgrade your lifestyle' - shown plonked down in the area right now occupied by all those much-ballyhoo'd pine trees and ancient acacias. Could that be so? That all this greenery - remember the ads, waking up to fresh pine scent etc, etc - is to be sacrificed for fast-food outlets and high-end retail stores? Surely not.
Just in case the artist's perspective was fiction - and they often are - I rolled down to Northpoint's sales office and made enquiries. Inside there's a beautiful model of the project showing the tower blocks, access roads, the white house, bags of greenery, quite pleasant but, ummm, where's this new development supposed to go?
Right there sir, in that long bendy triangle of greenery with its point at the white house and the base along the lower entrance access road. Wiping out all those expensively planted and excessively promoted pine trees. Should we be surprised? Not really. The developers have spotted a bit of green and we can't have that. City greenspace doesn't turn a profit - rents and franchises do.
Will Camella get a building permit? This new development is obviously not part of the original project, no sign of it on Camella's promotional literature or on that model. Will DENR allow the destruction of all those ancient trees? Certainly - in fact I can hear the rubber stamps being inked up now. This is, after all, Davao City which allows city greenspace, the lungs of the city, to be covered over with concrete and malls in the name of progress. A city, which believes in profit before planet. Bring on the chainsaws!
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 28, 2013.