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Rough Cuts: Davaoenos could also be paying for a non-service

Thank God, Davao City, Davao Occidental, and Davao Oriental where typhoon Chedeng was supposed to have its landfall with vicious fury were spared.

Yes, the areas were hit by heavy rains and seemingly stronger winds than usual. However, the storm that was earlier down-graded to a tropical depression was further lowered to a low pressure area (LPA) when it hit land.

Except for the rains that started Monday evening and continued until noon of Tuesday that made the day gloomy like night was falling, Davao City seemed totally unaffected by the weather disturbance. When reports came out on television and radio Tuesday afternoon no damage on lives and properties was reported in the city and Davao Occidental. However, Davao Oriental suffered some destruction on infrastructure, specifically a bridge that collapsed on the highway between Taragona and Manay towns of that province.
Several trees fell down and blocked the highway connecting the municipalities in that province’s eastern coastal area. Electric power was lost in some parts of Eastern Davao after some poles collapsed cutting off transmission lines.

On the whole though, the damage brought by the down-graded storm Chedeng to the Davao Region could be considered minimal compared to what was expected.

The storm however, brought to the public consciousness the high level of preparation that the local government units in the Davao Region are into especially in responding to the potential emergency situation that could develop as a consequence of such natural phenomena as storms and floods.

This new preparedness level was observed when the Municipal Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Councils (MDRRMCs), the City Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Councils (CDRRMCs), and Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Councils (CDRRMCs) in the affected areas in Southern Mindanao restlessly monitored the storm movement, conducted forced evacuation in villages highly vulnerable to water surges, flash floods and by collapsing trees and structures including the residents’ own houses.

Also, the different levels of the disaster response and management units have their men and rescue equipment on stand-by for immediate response to call for assistance.

With us having seen such preparation in terms of manpower and equipment, it can easily be deduced that the local government units have already made use of its disaster funds for the purpose the money is intended.

Indeed, last Tuesday’s scenario of responder groups on full alert with material resources on the ready indicate that appropriate trainings have been given to responders so their efforts will be more effective.

For this the different DRRMCs in the whole of the region deserve the people thanks and congratulations.

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During the Senate investigation of the water crisis that hit consumers covered by the concession of Manila Waters in the capital region it was found out that the water concessionaire has been collecting certain amount supposedly to fund the construction of a treatment plant in Cardona, Cavite. The treatment plant was constructed starting in 2015 and scheduled for completion last December 2018. Yet, according to what surfaced in the Senate probe, the plant was not finished and that only 20 percent of its target output is contributed to the Manila Water for distribution to its consumers.

Apparently, the customers have been billed since 2015 and that component in the Manila Water bill is labeled as payment for the construction of the Cardona Treatment Plant. Unfortunately, the senators failed to ask the question as to who owns the treatment facility whether it is the government or the concessionaire.

But whoever owns the unfinished treatment plant it is still beyond any man’s comprehension why the consumers of Manila Waters are made to pay its cost in advance. Consider this: If its government owned, its budget is supposed to be allocated from the taxes the Filipinos pay. If it belongs to the concessionaire then it should be the company’s investment and be recoup later when it is already in service. But based on the Senate probe outcome, it is the Manila Waters consumers who are financing the Cardona facility’s cost.
If this is authorized by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) then its regulatory arm has allowed the consumers to be fried with its own lard.

Because of this we are now looking into the component of our own water bill from the Davao City Water District (DCWD). The local water concessionaire has taken a loan of something like P2 billion to fund construction of facilities that will allow it to tap the bulk surface water to be supplied by a company the water firm has entered into an agreement with. So far, there is none to this effect.

We have however, found one component in our water bill that we believe is oppressive and should by now be stopped. Or if continued, either the amount must be reduced to half or the corresponding service defined in the bill component be clearly observed being done.
We will share our observation when we shall have done some backtracking research on the issue.

DCWD, we believed, could be raking in huge money since this component was included in its bill.

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