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Rough Cuts | The worst that floods can bring

Late the other week we tackled in this space the issue of Davao City being back on its flooding days. This came about after a series of strong rains submerged several low-lying areas of the city including some of its major thoroughfares.

The heavy rains also destroyed some city infrastructures that brought hardships to some residents. A few of these infrastructure projects that were smothered by flood waters are the Matina Pangi overflow bridge and a portion of the Garcia Diversion highway that was blocked by debris brought about by landslides.

While there is no doubt that rains are brought about by nature, the flooding of some parts of the city is exacerbated by man’s “misdeeds” and greed including government officials’ ineptitude in the performance of their duties and responsibilities.

The more overt of the impact of floods as a consequence of government ineptness and man’s greed is the flooding of the One Village in Bago Aplaya. We saw this through television footages in last Monday’s edition of the news program One Mindanao of GMA Regional TV. Houses were partially submerged and residents were wading in knee-deep waters. People in the area were complaining that they have been in that situation since a Chinese businessman fenced his property with several piles of hollow blocks and at the same time dumped earth-fill materials on a creek which serves as a natural waterway.

The result, according to residents interviewed on site with their claims buttressed by footages of their submerged houses, is that the flood waters that used to just be passing through the creek now divert its course and make their areas as catch basin.

We agree though, that the Chinese businessman owner of the lot at the vicinity of One Village in Bago Aplaya has some rights over the property he owns. However, he seems unaware that there are certain restraints in the exercise of such rights. That is when doing such violates other people’s rights.

One such right is altering of natural waterways without the approval of appropriate government agencies like the regulators from both local and national governments.

Even fencing of private properties needs permit from the City government through its City’s Building Official.

Knowing businessmen to be well-aware of the requirements of every activity related to their enterprise we have no doubt that the owner of the fenced property at One Village may have procured the needed permits for the fencing. He may have even gotten permission to dump earth-fill on the creek.

The questions that may be asked however, are: How did the property owner acquire the permits? Did the regulating offices conduct inspection on the site to be fenced and dumped with earth-fill?

Our hunch is that there was never a single site inspection. And if at all there is any inspection report this could be just “table inspection” and not actual on site. There is no need for us to elaborate why such “table inspections” are happening. These are practices in several government offices with regulatory powers.

Unfortunately for residents of One Village in Bago Aplaya, if government cannot implement measures to drain the murky and dirty water now making their area some kind of a “water world,” soon enough they will be suffering for the negative consequences.
We are certain that diseases like dengue, leptospyrosis, skin infections, worms and other infirmities are already lurking around. So, it now becomes imperative for the City Health Office (CHO) to do some interventions.

In the same vein we find it extremely important for the City Building Office or the City Engineer’s Office for that matter, to undertake actual site inspection. From there they can either validate the claims of residents, or refute the footages shown on television if they see a totally different situation.

Meanwhile, the residents affected by the non-receding waters should band together and seek intervention from the city’s legal office. It helps their cause if they are able to prod for the revisiting of the processes in the acquisition of permits for the fencing of the private property, and earth-filling of a portion of the natural waterway.

Now is the time that they should be one in finding for some helping hands. And we are certain they can find these hands first at the tips of their arms.

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