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Rough Cuts: Something to remember

Well, here is one warning that Davaoenos must heed.

And we mean this policy adopted by the City government of Davao, possibly as part of its effort to help implement Republic Act 10586 or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Law in the city. The policy which is now inscribed in huge streamers posted in strategic locations of the city is: “Drive drunk, met accident, no Lingap.” Meaning, if a motorist meets an accident on the road and is found under the influence of liquor or other toxic substance while driving, his family cannot expect any medical and other related assistance. This really is a chilling warning especially for those who belong to the marginalized sector of the city’s population.But is the city government ready for the implementation of the policy? We know that traffic authorities both under the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO) are short of equipment needed to determine whether a person driving a vehicle is under the influence of liquor or some addictive drugs.

Will the city require the family of drivers who meet road accidents to submit a certification from the traffic investigator that the driver victim has been examined using a “breathalyzer”? Will such finding by accident prober suffice?

Or, will the city’s Lingap office, the unit that examines all requests for medical or financial assistance from patients and releases the same once found meritorious, demand submission of a certification from the examining doctor that indeed the driver was found drunk or under toxic influence upon examination?

And assuming that breathalyzer units are available, does the city have a pool of trained policemen or traffic auxiliaries who will primarily be tasked to do road accident investigations and in the process use the equipment that determines the alcohol level in the driver’s body?.

We can remember that when RA 10586 was signed into law some four years back, the Davao Region’s Land Transportation Office (LTO) got an allocation of ten (10) units of breathalyzers. But considering that there are six cities in the region where most of the vehicles converge, it was reported that Davao City was assigned only four units, Tagum and Digos 2 units each, and Panabo City and Mati City allocated one breathalyzer each.

Now, with policemen sans training on how to use the equipment and with so many potential violators of RA 10586, is the number of breathalyzer units assigned in Davao City enough?

Of course we know that the city government has acknowledged this deficiency in units and was reported willing to augment what the LTO had assigned to the city for its use in the anti-drunk and drugged driving campaign.

The question now is, “Has the Davao City government made good its commitment to acquire enough units of breathalyzers? If it has, who are keeping the units and who are tasked to undertake on-accident-site examination of the driver accident victims? Is the authorized examiner for the driver’s alcohol level from the ranks of the traffic investigators, or is the examiner from the city’s emergency responders tied up with the 911?

Frankly, we believe that in making this policy of the city government work certain operating procedures have to be clearly put in place.

We have no doubt that such policy will never get any headway if the local government will depend solely on vague implementation framework and on the “coercive” message of the warning. It could even alienate a number of city residents who believe that they have the local government as their last “go-to”

entity for finding solution to their most urgent problem like hospitalization due to road accidents.

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The late Davao City Councilor Leo Avila III, shortly before he was incapacitated and eventual demise, declared thatthe beaches in the city were at that time, extremely high in coliform. That pronouncement coming from a known environmentalist should have been very alarming especially to beach goers.

Quoting a report made by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) in its water quality assessment 2014 study, the late Avila said during a KapehansaDabaw media forum that the number of coliform found for both downstream and upstream of Davao River was estimated at 4,900 to 1,887,000 most probable number (MPN) per 100 ml. Citing the same report the departed councilor added that the standard is only 1,000 per 100 ml.

As for the downstream only, the standard is 200mpn per 100 ml, but for the same part of the city’s largest body of fresh water, its fecal coliform was found to be 9,600 to 293,000 mpn per 100 ml.

Talomo River, too, has been assessed to have 1,006 to 456,000 mpn per 100 ml. with its fecal coliform at 414 to 183,000 mpn per 100 ml.

Both Davao River and Talomo River empty their water at areas considered as the city’s “bathable” beaches for now.

And there are still other rivers in Davao City. We have the Lasang and the Bunawan Rivers going north. We also have the Lanang andAgdao creeks. And going south we have Pangi River, the BagoAplaya creek, the Lubogan and Lizada Rivers in Toril. All these empty to the shores of the city.

Of course all the undesirable wastes are dispersed in the shorelines carried by the tidal movement of the sea.

It’s been six years since that DENR-EMB assessment result was made public by the late councilor. We have not heard of any measure being adopted by either the local or the national government to deter the polluting activities of people and industries.

Six years of throwing waste of all kinds into the city’s rivers through its drainage system, through open canals and creeks can only mean one thing – unimaginable volume of pollutants emptied into Davao’s beaches.

Today, we believe, there is already urgency for the local government to take more concrete action to arrest the fast accelerating sure death of the city’s beaches. And what does it make of anyone bathing in a dying river? What else but a potential death from illnesses borne by bacteria in the beach water.

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