DAVAO City has been experiencing fast-paced growth in recent years. We saw the rise of new structures, construction of new road networks, improvement of existing infrastructure, and expansion of commercial, industrial, and residential areas.
We celebrate these improvements as it shows the positive growth the city is experiencing in recent years. Coupled with this growth is also the improvement of the lives of Dabawenyos with new opportunities available for them.
However, we cannot turn a blind eye on the trade-offs the development has brought to the city. Environmental degradation is among the many trade-offs we are seeing right now. We have to point out though that Davao City, a highly-urbanized city, still has an environmental status that is still better than that of Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.
Davao City's better environmental status means that it is still able to implement preventive measures and strategies that will improve and conserve its environment.
Therefore, we should not take it lightly when Councilor Pilar Braga said the cutting of trees along the riverbanks near Ma-a for an expansion of an embankment is “alarming and worrisome.”
“The concreting of the embankments is a very, very necessary and important project to pursue. I, however, find it very disheartening to see the project being pursued seemingly without considerations to environmental concerns,” Braga said in a privilege speech in last week's council session.
While the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Davao City district engineering office acting public information officer John Frances Fuentes said they have the necessary permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the issue here is how the government, both local and national, will ensure development without sacrificing the environment.
DENR may be the lead agency when it comes to environmental protection.
However, other government agencies and the local government units (LGUs) must also take a proactive approach to ensuring that there is a balance between development and the environment.
What is happening now in the city, especially within the downtown area, is the fast development is adding stress to the local environment. There are barely any trees within the city center and trash around the city is becoming more visible than before.
Therefore, it is also good to note that Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte is prioritizing ordinances on the environment under his term.
“Balansehon nato, dili nato gusto isakrpisyo atong environment at the same time dili pud nato gusto ma sakripisyo ang income sa city kay progressing baya and we’re growing very fast (We need to balance and we don’t want to sacrifice our environment at the same time. We also don’t want to sacrifice the income of the city because we are progressing and we’re growing very fast),” he said.
The vice mayor will be asking the council to review and amend existing ordinances for the environment.
Dabawenyos are currently enjoying the fruits of the city's growth. However, coupled with the growth are the environmental trade-offs that post risks and problems in the future. The LGU still has the time to ensure that development in the city is sustainable. It has to act quickly and proactively to prevent Davao City from becoming a problematic urban city when it comes to the environment.