Crossfire: Councilors in their clowning glories

Mindanao Insider Daily
By ROGER M. BALANZA

Booboos mark Davao City Council session

In a Christmassy mood, Davao City councilors in the Tuesday session gave the thumbs up to several long pending legislative matters, ending the painful and suspenseful wait of applicants—mostly seeking council approval for housing projects—who had been trooping to council sessions the past weeks, nay months, to see the fate of their applications drowned in lengthy debates.
It was good councilors are in their friendly mood on Tuesday, the session being their last for the year. We hope the mood would prevail even after Christmas, Vice Mayor Inday Sara Duterte herself having noticed how legislative items moved oh so slowly. Inday Sara, in fact, had given her own piece of mind about fast action as a hallmark of her stewardship and had advised city councilors to wrap up at the soonest those items that had been sleeping the sleep of the dead in the agenda. The Tuesday mood partly could have been inspired by the councilors’ intent to clear up the backlog and start 2008 on a clean slate. In fact, for the first time almost all of the councilors were present in the session even as proceedings stayed up to past 5PM, a rare feat for some dads who vanish from the hall like ghosts in the middle of the session.
Ending up happy in the session is Jimmy Burbe of MNY Burbe, whose application for a stone crushing plant in Lubogan, Toril had been caught in the crossfire of heated and lengthy debate over noise and pollution that would torment his neighbors. After seven weeks, Burbe went home smiling with an approved application, after his good friend councilor Nonoy Al-ag managed to convince councilors that his district needed the Burbe business like hell.
Of course there were losers. Going home sour-faced is the Robinsons Land rep, who was following up action on an application for locational clearance for a 15-hectare high-end housing project in Buhangin. But Robinsons is another story: People and tilapias in the flood-prone Spring Valley blame their woes on surrounding subdivisions without workable drainage systems.
But booboos there were many in the penultimate 2007 session for the councilors, throwing a monkey wrench to what could have been the best session the city council ever had.
First came neophyte councilor Kaloy Bello—son of the ultra pro-poor, super freedom fighter and former justice sec Bebot Bello—who voted—the lone vote against 22 for the measure—against an application for an urban poor housing project in his Third District. For the simple and naïve reason that he could not understand the arithmetic of how many lots could be awarded in the proposed subdivision to the homeless urban poor. Kaloy should be careful with his moves. Election is but two years away. My advise is that he should not follow the like of councilor Danny Dayanghirang (Second District) who is in the brink of being declared persona non grata by urban poor groups in his district for his propensity to block every urban poor housing project seeking approval by the council committee on housing chaired by councilor Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling. Danny maybe could not care less being that his term is coming to an end in 2010, but Kaloy has a responsibility to protect the image of his father and his future as a politician.
Then came councilor Dante Apostol, seeking exemption for amusement tax for a group which was to show a film for public school pupils in one of the theaters. Skewered for an explanation, Apostol could not explain the scheme. It needed a meticulous perusal by councilors of the request to discover that the group would, allegedly, not charge students for the show, thus rendering the request for exemption unnecessary.
By the way, this is for councilor Mabel Acosta to investigate. This group called Society for the Advancement of Film Education is a racket. SAFE charges P50 for every pupil required—rather forced—to see the films the show in the theaters. It could not show accomplishment for projects supposedly funded by funds raised from the film showing, as they claim in their request for tax exemption. It is hell also for pupils—and their parents—to see the film—often imposed as an academic requirement by teachers who appear to be willing conspirators of SAFE. A disc of the Leonardo Caprio film Day After Tomorrow, which SAFE wants pupils to see in a theater, is available even at the sidewalks at San Pedro. Principals could buy a disc and show it at their library to pupils, who would be spared from the fare expenses and the torment of waiting in long lines for their turn outside theaters to see the film—not for its educational import—but for the financial gain of SAFE.
And last but not the least, we have councilor Danny Dayanghirang with his resolution “invalidating” the human rights violation report of UN Rapporteur Philip Alston to the UN Humand Rights Council.
Disputing, Danny, disputing not invalidating, was councilor Vic Advincula’s advice, which he did in a whisper, before the city council, a teeny-weeny blot in this earth, could end a laughing stock with a resolution “invalidating” a report submitted the United Nations, which represents almost all nations of this world.
Merry Christmas & a Happy New, Kaloy, Dante and Danny!!!!

Housing developer threatens to pull out projects in Davao City

Robinsons housing project hits snag
By ROGER M. BALANZA

ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S BIGGEST HIGH-END DEVELOPERS HAS THREATENED TO PULL OUT ITS PROJECTS IN DAVAO CITY IF CITY COUNCILORS CONTINUE TO STALL APPROVAL OF ITS PERMITS.

This developed as the application of Robinsons Land for locational clearance by a high-end housing developer hit a snag at the Davao City Council on Tuesday after being deferred over apprehension the 15-hectare project would trigger massive floods in the Buhangin area. A source in the company who declined to be named said Robinsons may abandon its Davao projects and transfer investment to Cebu City or Cagayan de Oro City if the local government continues to dilly-dally on the grant of approval.

The setback in the Tuesday regular session of the city council is the second to come for Robinsons Land whose other project in Dumoy met a negative vote from councilors last month.
In opposing the grant of approval, councilor Diosdado Mahipus urged action by the council on the Robinsons application for Preliminary Approval and Locational Clearance (PALC) deferred for further deliberation as he demanded the developer explain its drainage plan.
Mahipus said an earlier project at the vicinity of the new proposed subdivision had led to massive flooding and sought assurance mitigating measures are in place so as not to worsen the situation in the area. The councilor noted Spring Valley Village, an urban housing project, suffered most of the flooding caused by inadequate drainage planning of housing subdivisions in the Buhangin area.
Mahipus’s opposition forced councilor Arnolfo Riardo Cabling, chair of housing handling the Robinsons application, to postpone action on the matter even as Cabling said the denial could send a wrong signal to investors.
Cabling had alleged Robinsons was only seeking a PALC and that the developers drainage plan could be scrutinized when it returns to the council to seek approval of its development plan.
Last month, councilors also voted down another housing project in Dumoy, where the city aquifer is located, over fears of pollution seeping down to the source of the city’s drinking water.

Military, police on high alert for strike

Transmission predicts 98%
paralysis in today’s strike

City Hall yesterday whipped up an emergency plan to cope up with stranded commuters as a militant transport group said 98 % of public transport drivers are joining today’s strike.
The Department of Education, meanwhile, said it is not suspending classes, but advised school administrators and parents to keep their ears on the ground.
The Transport of Southern Mindanao for Solidarity, Independence and Nationalism (Transmission) said the transport strike starts at 12:00 and ends at midnight tonight.
Edel Gonzaga, Transmission spokesman, said late yesterday afternoon a total paralysis is expected today with all transport groups pledging support for the strike against recent hikes in oil prices.
Transmission is spearheading the Southern Mindanao strike to be carried nationwide in coordination with PISTON, the national organization of militant transport groups.
The moderate Southeastern Mindanao Diversified Drivers and Operators Cooperative (SEMDDOC) said it is not joining the strike but gave its driver members the option whether to ply the route or not.
“We may have a different way of protesting against the oil price hikes, but we are giving our drivers the choice whether to join or not the strike,” said SEMDDOC chairman Maning Duran.
At City Hall, city administrator Wendel Avisado summoned police, Task Force Davao and other government agencies to mobilize an emergency plan.
Like DepEd, work at city hall would not be suspended.
Traffic Management Center chief Celso Gempesaw said 30 buses would be stationed as early as 6AM at the City Hall grounds to ferry passengers.
Dodong Atillo, DepEd spokesman, said classes would not be suspended but school heads and principals are given the discretion to suspend classes if the situation worsens. He said pupils and students missing today’s classes would simply undergo make-up classes.
Gonzaga said Transmission would be fielding strikers at chokepoints to convince drivers who continue to ply the routes.

80 families flee homes in DavSur flood

P1M lost in Sulop floods

 

            Damaged computers, books and laboratory equipment at a public high school in Sulop, Davao del Sur formed a large chunk of damages estimated at P1 million as waist deep floods hit the town on Monday and Tuesday.

            The floods spawned by heavy rains that swamped the whole of the Davao Region since Sunday also triggered the evacuation of 80 families in Purok 10.

            Sulop municipal officials initially estimated worth of damages to crops and property at P1 million.

            Gilda Ochia, officer in charge of the Sulop National High School, said water level rose up to neck-high at the school damaging school equipment including computers, laboratory equipment and books.

            A roof of one of the school buildings collapsed while a part of the concrete perimeter fence was also destroyed.

Watershed Code of Davao City showcased in South African water summit

Cabling powerpoint presentation wows 200 participants

 

            The landmark Davao City Watershed Conservation, Protection Ordinance gained a foreign audience with its presentation last month in a world water summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

            Councilor Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling, in his report on his participation in the South African summit to the Davao City Council yesterday, said the ordinance approved early this year by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, earned appreciation from about 200 participants in the summit that addressed water conservation amid global warming.

            Cabling said the ordinance also known as the Watershed Code was shown in a power point presentation before the gathering of scientists, managers, stakeholders and legislators—concerned with water protection and conservation—in the summit organized by Unesco-HELP.

            The 6-day event from November 4 to 9 is the second international gathering on water conservation attended by Cabling, chair of the committee on housing and vice chair of the committee on environment. In August he also attended a similar conference in Australia also spearheaded by Unesco-HELP.

            We were able to show to the participants that the Davao City government is serious about preserving our water resources to be able to contribute to world effort to arrest global warming, said Cabling.

             

Young Muslim councilor implores Allah’s help

“So help me Allah”
By ROGER M. BALANZA

Councilor Halina Sudagar yesterday implored Allah’s help in apparent emphasis on her being a Muslim, as she took her oath as a new member of the Davao City Council.
Coming in as the youngest member of the council, Sudagar, 15, would sit as sectoral councilor representing the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). She won as president of the youth organization last week, after winning the SK chairmanship of Barangay Waan in the last election. She takes over the seat vacated by councilor April Marie Dayap, who is vowing out after three years as SK rep.
In yesterday’s session of the city council where she was installed as a new member, Sudagar in her speech after the oath taking sent a mild, surprised shock—albeit welcome—across the gallery when she ended her oath in a different way: You help me Allah!
She veered into the religious spin as she trailed after speaker protempore councilor Mabel Acosta, who presided over yesterday’s session, who administered the oath.
The last line should have read: So help me God.
Sudagar, of the Kalagan tribe and the second Muslim to sit in the council and daughter of Cesar Sudagar, an ustadz in the city government-funded Madrasah, in her speech immediately spelled out her program of governance. Councilor Amilbangsa Manding, a Maranaw and barangay captain of Barangay Mini-Forest, represents the barangay captains in the council.
Topping the list of her 10-point agenda is her defense of the SK that she said should be the youth’s contribution to genuine governance.
She defended the organization against its critics, saying the abolition of SK as demanded by some sectors would disenfranchise the youth of their voice in government.
Dayap, acknowledged even by media as the best SK rep ever, in her valedictory, vowed to assist Sudagar.
“I am only a centimeter away from you to give advice, help and guidance in pursuit of genuine public service,” said Dayap, who was awarded with a plaque of appreciation by councilors.
Sudagar, a third year high schooler at Fatima College, appeared to have given an strong impression in her first showing at the council with her delivery of her prepared speech loaded with youth-oriented objectives.

Davao City dads slam Alston report, Manila daily

City Hall not funding Davao Death Squad

Davao City councilor Peter Laviña yesterday took offense at a news report in a national daily, which hinted that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte could be using his peace and order fund to finance the Davao Death Squad.
“This is a baseless and malicious accusation,” said Laviña in a privilege speech. The report published in the Daily Tribune quoted unnamed human rights groups expressing fear Duterte would use the peace and order fund—P436 million in the P2.9 billion annual budget for 2008 of the city government—to support the killing spree.
The Davao City Council approved in session yesterday the budget that contained the biggest ever peace and order fund for the mayor.
The Tribune report also detailed the report by rapporteur Peter Alstons to the United Nation’s Human Right Commission.
Alston in the report, said Duterte appears to have condoned the summary killings by the death squad of the mostly young suspected criminals.
The report maligned out city, said Laviña, and urged that city councilors make a stand to clarify the report. The city government is not spending a single centavo for the death squad, he said.
In yesterday’s session, the city council also passed a resolution authored by councilor Danilo Dayanghirang disputing the Alston report.

No Favor Nor Fear