Proposed subdivision at Shrine Hills faces backlash

Amid landslide concerns, regulatory scrutiny
Shrine Hills overlooking the Davao downtown area taken in 2018.
Shrine Hills overlooking the Davao downtown area taken in 2018.Jayson Nierra/Idis

ENVIRONMENTAL groups based in Davao have expressed concerns about plans by a real estate developer to build a high-class subdivision at Shrine Hills, citing its high susceptibility to landslides.

Lemuel Lloyd Manalo, program coordinator of the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis), emphasized their stance during a media interview on June 26, 2024, at Ayala Malls Abreeza. 

He clarified that while they support development in the area, they recommend ensuring that construction aligns with suitable zoning.

"We believe certain areas prone to development concerns should be designated as non-build zones due to their hazardous nature," he said in the vernacular during a media interview on Wednesday morning, June 26, 2024, at the Ayala Malls Abreeza.

Idis further proposed that the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) mandate increased green space requirements, suggesting an elevation from 10 percent to 50 or 60 percent.

According to Idis's statement, the development site falls under Davao City's Zoning Ordinance (2018-2028) within the Low-Density Residential (R1) and Low-Density Commercial (C1) Zones. Landslide Susceptibility Maps from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Davao Region (MGB-Davao) indicate significant risks due to steep slopes and porous limestone soil, which could lead to sinkholes, rock falls, and debris flows.

“Idis strongly recommends that High Susceptibility to Landslides areas within their development site should be classified as No-Build Zones," the statement asserted, citing Ordinance No. 0861-22 series of 2022.

The environmental group urged the Davao Local Government Unit (LGU) to review zoning ordinances to designate disaster-prone areas as Urban Ecological Enhancement Sub-zones (UEESZ) or other mitigative zones.


The real estate company conducted a groundbreaking ceremony on July 17, 2024, marking the commencement of development on a four-hectare plot covered by a Development Permit issued on January 31, 2023. 

They plan to market 26 lots under the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) License to Sell No. 0000939, issued on March 10, 2023.

The company assured compliance with local ordinances, zoning restrictions, and development regulations in their Facebook statement on June 18.

Councilor Sweet Advincula clarified in a June 19, 2024 interview with SunStar Davao that the company received City Council approval to develop outside the Urban Ecological Enhancement Sub-zone (UEESZ) on the specified four hectares, per zoning regulations.

“Katong areas na nag-fall within the UEESZ kato nga areas dili gyud to allowed to be altered and developed and these areas kani ang mag-form sa ilahang green spaces and open spaces (In areas falling within the UEESZ, no alterations or developments are allowed, strictly reserved for green and open spaces),” she said. 

Advincula, chair of the high-end housing committee, specified that the real estate developer has approval to develop approximately 1.9 hectares in compliance with the Zoning Ordinance and the recently updated Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), which dictate permissible activities.

However, she emphasized that areas designated as UEESZ are unsuitable for development and should be reserved as green and open spaces, as advised by the City Housing Land Use Regulatory Unit.

Advincula confirmed that the 20th City Council, together with relevant national agencies responsible for issuing permits, conducted a site visit. She affirmed that the company had fulfilled all regulatory requirements with agencies such as the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Davao (MGB-Davao), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Davao Region (DENR-Davao), and the 20th City Council. 

She added that members of the committee and key national and local agencies' representatives were also present during hearings and ocular inspection for the real estate company.

CPDO head Ivan Cortes said in a June 24 radio interview with GMA Super Radyo Davao that the development falls within Residential and Tourism Development Zones, not included in the Urban Ecological Enhancement Sub-zone under the 2013 Zoning Ordinance.

Shrine Hills, known for its landslide risks, remains a concern, Cortes acknowledged warning of potential impacts on nearby areas.

Barangay 74-A Matina Crossing Captain Joel Santes outlined conditions and resolutions issued for the developer, emphasizing that while it's an investment for the barangay, final decisions rest with the City Council in compliance with the law.

Concerns raised by netizens about the development prompted discussions among Dabawenyos, with Councilor Advincula acknowledging public vigilance and reiterating the city council's oversight of all developments.


Following the real estate company's now-deleted groundbreaking post, many Dabawenyos expressed concerns about the planned development at Shrine Hills, fearing potential adverse effects on the city's environment.

Advincula acknowledged and valued the vigilance of Dabawenyos in monitoring city developments. She reassured the public that all developments undergo rigorous oversight by the City Council.

“Kaning mga development na musulod sa atoa we make sure especially sa mga developers ug would be applicants we make sure, we remind them that they should be compliant with the zoning ordinance, restrictions, and also mga national laws that will be applied to them (When these developments fall under our jurisdiction, we ensure that developers and prospective applicants are reminded to comply with zoning ordinances, restrictions, and national laws),” she said.

Meanwhile, the Sustainable Davao Movement, formerly the Save Davao Shrine Hills Advocates and Green Davao Coalition, advocated from 2011 to 2022 for designating Shrine Hills' 222 hectares as UEESZ under the CLUP and zoning ordinances. RGP


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