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ROUGH CUTS | Dinky Soliman and the DMGENCO

Vic N. Sumalinog

NOW we know why the Davao Multi-stakeholders Group on Energy Concerns (DMGENCO) is so passionate in its desire to extend its condolences to the family of the late Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary during the previous administration Corazon “Dinky” Soliman who died recently. The late Secretary was quick in responding to the proposal of the multi-sector group for an agreement to establish a resettlement area for the most vulnerable sector of the population within the vicinity of the site where the Aboitiz Coal-fired Power Plant was to be constructed in Sirawan, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur. The agreement was part of the strategies recommended by the DMGENCO to Aboitiz Power to “soften” the position of the people in the community against the plant construction in the place. In that agreement, as disclosed in the book Power, Peace, and Place: Why firms account for their actions, a copy of which we were lucky to have in our possession, it was learned that the power conglomerate proposed to donate a 5-hectare lot for resettling the affected residents. The local government of Sta. Cruz, then under former Mayor Joel Lopez, was very receptive of the proposal. The Aboitiz Power group and the LGU, according to the book written by Phil Champain and published by International Alert Philippines, saw the wisdom behind the DMGENCO recommendation. Thus, together with representatives from the LGU of Sta. Cruz and leaders of the community presented the proposal to the then Secretary of DSWD. Soliman was quick to realize that providing relocation not only of the land but the houses, was the best option there was, and that was one opportunity for the government to implement with less expense and hassle its Core Shelter Assistance Program which was under Soliman’s Department.

     Through Soliman’s intervention, the DMGENCO-proposed strategy was immediately put in papers and the agreement among the LGU of Sta. Cruz, the Aboitiz Power, the Civil Society and the community with the DSWD committing its assistance based on the estimated value of each core shelter, was immediately signed. Through the agency the government committed a grant of P17.7 million based on the P70,000 estimated cost per unit of the relocation house. Soliman in fact immediately downloaded P12 million to jumpstart the project while the Aboitiz power group was to ready its donation of a 5-hectare lot.

     Unfortunately though the very innovative and noble proposal crafted by the DMGENCO was hampered by the usual bureaucracy in government transactions until it was finally overtaken by the election where there was a change in local governance administration. What followed was of course changes in priorities. How it affected the resettlement project and the community closest to the plant site we’d rather not tackle it here. It might create some political undercurrent.

     However, it is clear that the members of the DMGENCO could not seem to forget how Dinky Soliman readily saw the viability of the project in addressing community concerns on the people’s fear of environmental degradation and the supposed effects of the plant’s operation on their physical health.

    Perhaps it is the reason why the members of the multi-stakeholders group based in Davao could not help but be indebted to Secretary Dinky for her unqualified support to their proposal. So their sincerest condolence to the family of the late Secretary is to them, the best they can to repay a debt of gratitude. Surely, to the members of DMGENCO Soliman will live forever in their hearts and minds.

     DMGENCO by the way is composed of the following persons representing the sectors of stakeholders they belong: Dr. Iris Melliza, Fr. Danny Montana, RCJ; Manuel ‘Bobby’ Orig, Jason Magnaye, Steven Bernard Getes, Lou Deligencia, Magno ‘Jun’ Adalin, Francisco ‘Pancho’ Lara Jr., Nikki Phillinr dela Rosa, Peter Lavina, and community leaders Flor Salandron, Sobrecarey Hasan, Camar Sumping, Datu Amado Mansabid, and Juvilyn Inguito. Of course working closely with them were Aboitiz Group and International Alert Philippines. The latter serves as adviser of the group and acts as “referee” during open and frank, sometimes heated discussions of issues involved or encountered in the coal power plant’s journey to realization.   

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      As usual we will remain consistent with our hunch that outgoing President Rodrigo R. Duterte will not pursue his announced plan to run for Vice President under the banner of his administration. 

     Apparently however, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno who recently signified that he is running for President in the May 2022 elections is already picking a fight with the President. In fact it is apparent that the Manila Chief Executive is still convinced that President Duterte will really proceed with his plan for the second highest position in the land after he leaves the Presidency. And Moreno is spiting him. The Manila mayor is picking Dr. Willie Ong as his tandem, pitting the latter in direct match with the incumbent President.

     We are not underestimating the qualifications of Dr. Ong. But to our mind having him as his Vice Presidential tandem is another way of saying that Isko totally believes in the weakness of Duterte as a vice presidential candidate that any Tom, Dick and Harry can beat him to the pulp.

     Bring it on Isko!                                                       

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