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Rough Cuts | A reminder from a dead councilor

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, meet accident, no Lingap.” Meaning, if a motorist meets an accident on the road and is found to be 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.

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 not 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 years back, the Davao Region’s Land Transportation Office (LTO) got an allocation of ten (10) units of breathalyzers. 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 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, was 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? Are the authorized examiners for the driver’s alcohol level from the ranks of the police traffic investigators, or are they 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 inscribed on large rectangular tarpaulins hung on almost every overpass leading into or going out of Davao City . It could even alienate a number of city residents who believe that the local government which is their last “go-to” entity for finding solution to their most urgent problem like hospitalization due to road accidents, are already imposing a very strict condition to get such assistance.

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The late Davao City Councilor Leo Avila III, shortly before his incapacitation and eventual demise, declared that the 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 in a study, the late Avila said during a Kapehan sa Dabaw 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 and Agdao creeks. And going south we have Pangi River, the Bago Aplaya 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 years since that DENR-EMB assessment result was made public by the late councilor. And a few months back the same DENR-EMB issued another statement affirming what it had reported earlier and the one used by the departed councilor as his reference. Unfortunately, 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.

The 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 rivers and creeks, and 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.

The best news so far that we have heard in relation to this road to perdition the city is taking, is some press statements from the Davao City Water District (DCWD) claiming that it is eager and raring to undertake a waste water treatment plant project for the city.

The bad news however, is the water firm’s allegation that the Davao City Council has continued sitting on a proposed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that will govern the implementation of such important sanitation project by the DCWD.

Can we hear from the city officialdom please?

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