Alvarez pushes for creation of Davao metropolitan authority

HOUSE Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he is filing a House Bill that will create the Davao Gulf Metropolitan Development Authority (DGMDA), whose charter will be similar to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Development Authority (SBMA), to push the development of the Davao Region toward the inclusive growth that the President envisions.

Alvarez in Friday's groundbreaking ceremonies of the 760-hectare Hijos Estate Development in Tagum City said, "Within the Duterte Administration, we will change the picture of Region 11 (Davao Region)."

Among many other moves, the most striking under the proposed bill is the reclassification of all lands from the shoreline to five kilometers inland as commercial, industrial, and residential, contrary to the existing situation now where most coastal lands up to five kilometers inland are classified as agriculture.

"Hopefully, all politicians will really unite, from San Marcelino in Davao Occidental to Davao del Sur to Davao City to Davao del Norte and Comval (Compostela Valley) up to the tip of Cape San Agustin in Davao Oriental," he said.

That will be the area covered by DGMDA. In a later press conference, Alvarez said that the only possible problem he sees that the DGMDA will face will be "laziness of local government units (LGUs)."

"Andoon na kasi lahat, you just have to encourage investors to locate," he said. "Lahat ng ingredients dapat ng sound location, kailangan i-provide."

Like SBMA, the DGMDA will have an administrator to oversee development and responses of the LGUs, thus, somebody will still be helping the LGUs get in shape and figure out how to fan development in their areas.

Alvarez said they have allotted P500-million for the creation of the development authority and that he is confident the bill will be passed by the second quarter of 2018.

He said that part of the development priorities within the DGMDA will be water and power. Questioned on the status of the power sector in Davao del Norte that continues to be hounded by problems because of the unresolved controversies between the Davao Norte Electric Cooperation-National Electrification Administration (Daneco-NEA) and the Daneco-Cooperative Development Authority (Daneco-CDA), he warned that they will soon file charges against the officers of Daneco-CDA should they be found to have committed either graft or estafa.

"Kanang Daneco, dugay nana badlongon. I asked COA (Commission on Audit) to do an audit on Daneco-CDA. Ang Daneco-CDA, wala man na'y capital. Nagpa-accredit rana sila sa CDA. Electrification of barangays, meron bang investment and Daneco-CDA? Gobyerno man ang naggastos niana (Daneco has long been a problem. I asked COA to audit Daneco-CDA because this group never had any capitalization. They just had their group accredited by the CDA. The electrification of barangays was funded by the government. Does the Daneco-CDA have any investment there?) What right do have they to collect billings?" Alvarez said.

Once criminal liability is found based on the audit, Alvarez said the officers stand to face charges of graft and corruption if they are government employed or estafa and other possible criminal charges if from the private sector.

Hijo Estates is a 760-hectare master-planned township that includes a 54-hectare international deep-sea port with an initial terminal capacity of 450,000 TEU expandable to 650,000; a town center for business, commercial and retail activities, and a satellite government center; 320-hectare leisure and tourism development estates; residential estates that will include a clubhouse, sports facilities, parks and open spaces, and biking and jogging paths, and; an ICT campus for business process outsourcing and other IT-driven companies.

The property owners, the Tuasons led by Hijo Resources Corporation Chief Executive Officer and President Rosanna Tuason Fores and the matriarch Ambassador to the Holy See Merceditas Fores, came full force as they witnessed the unveiling of yet another phase in the developments envisioned by their late patriarch Jose "Boy" Tuason when he gave up much of their landholdings in Luzon to focus on Mindanao 60 years ago. He died at an early age though, leaving but a vision of development and memories of his drive to see this through.
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