Yes indeed, towards the end of 2019 Davao City was well on its way to the pinnacle of what could be another banner year for the local government. What with all the influx of development brought about by the political fortune of one of the city’s sons former mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte. With the Davaoeno assuming the Presidency Davao City and the rest of the Davao Region came to the vortex of national and even international consciousness — politically and economically.
Shortly after the start of Duterte’s term came an avalanche of actual investments and many more listed in the pipelines. Of course with this promising economic outlook the local and national governments made sure that there were reciprocal efforts to have the city ready for the wave of investors coming in.
Thus, it is already common to Davaoenos moving around the city’s urban and suburban areas to see road expansion projects, opening of new by-pass and farm-to-market roads, a coastal highway, and more bridges even in rural areas.
In other words, the last three years saw Davao City both in bloom and in boom.
Yes, with a Davaoeno President the city started its climb to a full bloom, and that bloom like flowers drawing bees, was also enticing local, national and global economic capitalists to explore the city’s potential.
But as they say a march to progress is not always made in smooth routes. There are sections were thorns are strewn and these become the “spoilers” of the journey towards development.
Sadly, in the case of Davao City, the “spoilers” of its full development potentials came towards the end of 2019. And it came at the very time when people were supposed to be at its peak of enjoying the universally anticipated season of happiness – Christmas and the New Year. And perhaps more ironically, these development “spoilers” were both caused by men and nature.
If Davaoenos can still recall, during the months of October and November last year, there were a series of earthquakes that hit the city and destroyed some high rise condominium buildings. Damages were massive.
The disasters put to doubt the integrity of the construction industry in the city as well as the capability of local contractors to comply with the quality level required by property owners.
And then in early December of 2019 news began filtering from China that a new kind of disease, the Coronavirus, was ravaging the City of Wuhan and killing residents by huge numbers. The World Health Organization (WHO), by the onset of 2020, started issuing warnings that the epidemic in Wuhan is likely to evolve into a global pandemic due to the absence of a vaccine that would prevent its spread.
By then cases of the CoViD virus infection were already monitored in the country. But most of the reported victims were Chinese nationals who have come to the country as tourists. The early cases reported were in Metro Manila, Aklan, Cebu and Bohol. This was understandable because the mentioned region and provinces are the top tourist destinations in the country.
Meanwhile, Davao City was, during that early time of the current year, still enjoying its relative isolation from the deadly virus.
But a few weeks before this year’s Araw ng Dabaw celebration last March 16, a Manila cockfight aficionado who was infected with the CoViD 19 was able to “sneak” into the city and mingled with thousands of other cock derby patrons in the city’s Matina Gallera. And from that time on Davao City’s health landscape was a totally different story.
With the Davaoeno President’s declaration of a National Health Emergency due to the steep rise in the number of CoViD 19 infected persons, the local government’s leadership with the President’s daughter on the helm, put the city under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). The ECQ forced the city’s economic activities into a standstill. Businesses were closed, and as a consequence thereof majority of the workforce ended up jobless. And not just without jobs, they became part of the legions of the “No Work, no pay” sector, in addition to the city’s already disadvantaged residents.
We have no doubt that even if Davao City did not suffer much from the series of earthquakes towards the end of last year the LGU had drawn much from its resources to help the cities and municipalities badly affected by the strong temblors. And if its assistance sent to the volcano eruption-ravaged municipalities and cities in Batangas is to be included, the likelihood is that Davao City’s resources could be depleted to the maximum.
The year-end and the year-in disasters that besiege Davao City could possibly make the bullishness of local and international investors temporarily reduced to “sheepish.” What with the possible uncertainty of the city’s capability to be back on its feet again in time to meet the various requirements of investors to buoy up their interest to locate here!
Really, an immediate return to the city’s march to recovery vis-à-vis giving premium to the health condition of its people would be a difficult choice to make by the city mayor. She has to be wary with tipping the balance towards any of the two choices.
Any which way the balance weighs in more, hurts the city itself – its economy and its people.
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