Editorial: Signs of the times

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Friday, March 21, 2014

THIS week, Megaworld executives came over to announce their intention to pour in as much as P15 billion in a township development project in an 11-hectare plot of land in Lanang, in what used to be the Lanang Golf Club.

This new development thus joins the SM Lanang, which also occupies a part of the golf club of long ago.

This is a major investment, considering that it’s just on an 11-hectare area, relatively small if compared to the township development projects of Megaworld in other areas.


Beyond the investment announcement, however, is a full glimpse of how Davao City is viewed by those who see potentials. Of course, we know, this is not just any altruistic move; rather, this is a confirmation that investors like these see promise of being able to recoup and profit from their investments in the near future. You don’t simply pour in P15 billoin and expect nothing in return.

This is just one. How many more are coming?

On the sides, the Aboitiz Power’s Therma South Inc. (TSI) sees greater expansion in the future, higher than the increased capacity of its coal power plant in Binugao, Toril that it is now applying for at the Davao City Council.

Manuel Orig, TSI first vice president for Mindanao affairs, said that when they first asked for approval of a 300MW coal power plant in 2011 from the City Council, the demand for power that still needed to be answered was just at 484MW. Barely three years later, even before the coal power plant could start operations, TSI once again sought the approval of an additional 345MW generating capacity, more than what was originally proposed. They expect to seek greater capacity much later.

They still do not have a ballpark figure on how huge the demand they will have to fill up again in the future, one thing they are sure, they will need to expand.

At a meeting Friday, a resident noted that what used to be the 15-minute drive to anywhere in Davao City no longer applies, especially in the northern areas. Used to be, Dabawenyos would say that it takes only 15 minutes maximum to reach one destination to another whether it be all across downtown to the north or south. Now, people need much more than that, sometimes even nearing one hour, when traffic situation has worsened.

Yes, Davao is fast growing. Davao is at the center view of all those recognizing bright prospects. But with it, will be the urban blight that goes with fast-growing economies. Are we ready for it? Has anyone even buckled down to compute the carry capacity of the city and identified the mitigating measures that have to be taken in order to at least preserve a quality of life that the present Dabawenyos are enjoying. If not, we should have one and fast.

It should be bothersome as it is now, that when asking for some economic data at the barangay-level, there is not much to be gathered, except from the top 10 performing barangays. This is very disturbing considering that there are 182 barangays in the city. Meaning, we can be blind to 172 other barangays. A database that has such a huge ignored data can never be a good basis for any plans and decisions toward a vision of a better tomorrow. Do we hear some grunts of agreement from the Davao City Planning and Development Office? We hope so, and we also hope that they are by now buckling down instead of just playing the welcoming committee for all and any investor who comes to town.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 22, 2014.


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