The wide blue unplanned yonder

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By Gary Covington

Looking In

Friday, April 25, 2014


I'VE long held the conviction that Davao's planning office doesn't have a clue; that their idea of long-range planning is to discuss what to have for lunch and then maybe hold the order while they approved yesterday's breakfast -- a conviction confirmed the other week when I rode up Cabantian/Indangan road, seven or eight kilometers of random residential development served by one inadequate and ill-maintained strip of road and all, presumably, approved and rubber-stamped by the city. Sunday last, on a recce for the coming Magsaysay Park/Mandug bike ride, I trundled past more evidence that planning is an alien concept to the city.

Not so many years ago the Buhangin/Tigatto/Mandug road was a gravel track running past and through banana plantations. The track was cemented.

Bananas were bulldozed away and replaced with a high-density residential project and, further on, a handful of proposed top-end developments; Las Palmas Verdes on the right, Robinson's Nizanta Cuidades on the left, Palos Verdes straight on.

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The road in those undeveloped years was adequate for the Mandug/plantation traffic load but here comes progress. Mountains are hauled away by ten-wheeler trucks to fill holes somewhere else. Mammoth cement mixers hurry back and forth to feed subdivision construction and a fleet of multicab PUVs has come into being to ferry a new population in and out of the city. Not that the traffic moves very fast, slogging along at the pace of the slowest vehicle which today is a fleet of overloaded tricycles somehow allowed to ply their trade between Buhangin and Mandug.

Maybe there are plans (No sniggering at the back please) for a new Tigatto/Mandug highway but at the moment it's the old plantation route which right-angles its way through a high-density residential development and, as usually happens, roadside businesses spring up to take advantage of the wheel-borne trade; barbecue stalls, small stores, vulcanizing shops, auto repair places - all claiming a bit of the road or verge with their stalls and parked-up vehicles, reducing the carriageway's effective width and slowing down passing travelers. I wonder how the developers of the swanky subdivisions further up the valley will sell their lots when it's such a struggle to actually get there. Anybody see evidence of planning?

Moving on and some folks are just born unlucky. Take Davao Occidental Mayor Jimmy Joyce. In August 2012 police raided Jimmy's house and confiscated a small arsenal of weaponry - Armalites, pistols and top of the line branded machine pistols. At the time I asked what a mayor was doing with all this kit and the consequences if such weaponry 'got into the hands of the bads guys as inevitably it must'? If the police could catch the mayor's bodyguards literally napping then so could the bad guys and, sure enough, the other Sunday Jimmy's house was raided again but this time by the New People’s Army, the NPA which, according to official reports, trussed up the guards and made off with '11 home-made shotguns'.

Bit of a come down isn't it? Top of the line machine pistols to hacksaw and hammer shotguns? I'm wondering where the good stuff was stashed but hush, mustn't mention private armies. Pure fiction. Absolutely not true. Ask any Mindanao war.....sorry....ask any Mindanao politician.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 25, 2014.

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