Environment groups push for DavSam Bridge realignment

Environment groups push for a shorter, environmentally conscious approach; Urge Davao leaders to prioritize environmental welfare, community concerns
This is an artist’s perspective of the proposed Davao-Samal bridge.
This is an artist’s perspective of the proposed Davao-Samal bridge. File Photo

ENVIRONMENTAL groups Sustainable Davao Movement (SDM), and Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis) reiterated their hope for the realignment of the Samal Island-Davao City Connector (SIDC) Project during a press conference on Tuesday morning, May 21, 2024, in Magallanes, Davao City.

Lawyer Romeo Carbarde, an SDM member and vice chairperson of Amnesty International, clarified that they support the concept of the bridge but advocate for its realignment. He argued that a shorter bridge would be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly, preserving trees and corals.

“Ako I believe na may paraan pa upang ma-assert natin ang realignment ng Davao-Samal bridge, may paraan pa na ma-safeguard natin yung mga puno, mga environment dito sa Davao City (I believe that there is still a way to assert the realignment of the Davao-Samal bridge, there is a way to safeguard the trees, the environment here in Davao City),” he said.

Carmela Marie Santos, SDM secretariat, expressed their continued hope for the realignment of the SIDC, noting the support of many concerned Dabawenyos. However, she expressed dismay at the actions of the 20th City Council.

She said, “Wala akong makitang positive actions on their part to protect the environment. I mean malapit na ang election. Time for us to review kung sino ba talaga ang nilalagay natin diyan, ‘yung mga nilalagay natin diyan ginagawa ba talaga nila ang trabaho nila (I haven't seen any positive actions on their part to protect the environment. I mean, the election is nearing. It's time for us to review who we're putting in these positions, whether they're really doing their job),” she said.

Carbarde questioned why the local government unit (LGU) claimed it couldn't intervene due to the project's national status. He asserted that the LGU has the authority to act under the local government code.

Echoing Santos’ sentiments, he urged Davao's political leaders to use their power to influence the national project and hold foreign contractors accountable for neglecting Dabawenyos' welfare.

“Section 16, local government units are given the mandate to exercise its powers which are necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare and enhance the rights of the people to a balanced ecology,” he added.

Mark Peñalver, executive director of Idis, suggested that the LGU could exert authority by issuing permits contingent upon adherence to local ordinances, such as the Heritage Tree Ordinance, to ensure project compliance.

“Daghan opportunity og asa ma-exert sa local government unit ilang authority. So for them to think na wala na tay mabuhat because it’s a national government project unsa na musalo nalang ta sa national government without considering the general welfare, without considering the impact to the environment, and then to the people (There is ample opportunity for the local government unit to exert their authority, so for them to think that they cannot do anything because it is a national government project is shortsighted and disregards the welfare of the environment and the people),” he said.

Earlier, both environmental groups voiced concerns at the 20th City Council session regarding the felling of approximately 200 trees in Lanang, Davao City, for the SIDC project and in observance of the International Day for Biological Diversity. RGP

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