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ROUGH CUTS | Now floods stoke even in the uplands

Vic N. Sumalinog

WHEN the current national administration started working on uplifting the physical appearance of the badly deteriorating condition of the Manila Bay by covering the same with pulverized dolomite stones environmentalist aided with some politicians were making a lot of noise all against the project. They said that it would be a waste of money by the national government and will not in any way solve the deterioration of the once famous bay. In fact they opined that the dolomite sand would even produce substances that will further destroy the underwater habitat. So tense was their desire to stop the project that they even threated to elevate their cause to the Supreme Court. Assuming that they did go up to the highest court of the land we believe that eventually the High Court may have finally given its imprimatur to the project since the government did proceed on it. And last week the completed portion was finally opened for strolling by the public.

     Perhaps stunned by the people’s terrific response and appreciation to the new appearance of the “dolomited” portion of Manila Bay the temporarily silent environmentalists were suddenly awakened and immediately issued yet another bombastic and eerie warning of negative consequences of dolomites. Again they say the project did not undergo consultations with appropriate agencies like the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) which they insinuate could have given the proper inputs on the effects of dolomite to the aquatic resources along the bay. 

     Of course we may not be waiting for a longer period of time with which the environmentalists ally politicians will grab the opportunity to lambast those who are or feeling responsible for the success of the project. The 2022 election season is very well in our midst and these politicians will be more than willing to grab whatever opportunity they have to paint a demonic picture of their political adversaries.

      Indeed in Philippine politics any which way one takes or any development project a politician does, there will always be one who’ll block the way or oppose the project, all for self or group’s convenience and interest.

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     Talking of environment, we could help but ponder quite deeply what is happening to our place in the secluded barangay of Talandang in Tugbok district, Davao City. It is more or less 31 kilometers from the city’s downtown. It is an elevated barangay bounded on each of its sides with a huge valley that stretches up to Davao River at the Callawa boundary, and on the other side a ravine with a creek that has a continuous water flow from its upstream tributaries. The creek also empties its water to the Davao River.

     Up until middle of 2019 we never had any experience of flash floods in the place.  But as of late that year when our family was virtually residing in our farmhouse after our retirement, we already experienced sudden avalanche of murky flood waters inundating residences up to floor level. In 2020 the flood occurrence became even more frequent and the water became deeper. This year, specifically in the evening of July 8 and only last Friday night we found out the flood came in faster and much deeper. The barangay’s designated evacuation center which has boundary with our house compound was submerged in knee-deep water. The central portion of the barangay was like a lake dotted with houses. Our own residence with the floor elevated from the ground surface by about a foot, was already flooded. And to think that the strong rains poured intermittently for only about an hour and a half.

      While waiting for the water to subside we had to shut off some circuit breakers of the power inside our house for fear that the water will eventually enter some of the lowly-installed outlets. That also gave us some time to ponder what is happening to our barangay that we once thought as beyond reach of such cataclysmic incidents as flood. We did some kind of mental environmental scanning. We then realized that the primary culprit is the recklessly-planned, if not totally unplanned introduction of development projects in our place.

     Yes, the concreting of the road towards our place and the entry of water service as well as the use of one lane of the road leading to Calinan as underground passage of the 60-inch diameter pipe for a bulk water supply project are most welcome. But somehow with the ease in travel towards our barangay, the city also allowed the entry of poultry plants and a box manufacturing firm nearby.  The many poultry establishments in our barangay has led to the leveling of large ground surface, cutting of existing coconut palms and cacao plants, as well as the wiping out of a once sprawling rubber plantation.

     We realized to our chagrin that this wanton destruction of natural environment protection was the cause of the unabated erosion of soil in the higher grounds of the barangay even as the flow of rain water gets unhampered. And the latest development that seems to worsen the floods in our place especially at the vicinity of our residence, and the school site is the expansion of the concrete road by about a foot and a half on both sides. When one of the road sides was excavated for the pouring of concrete, the contractor’s worker simply dumped the debris on the open canal that serves as the drainage. This resulted to the shallowing of the canal’s depth and the constricting of its width. 

     What then is expected of such a condition of the drainage but the immediate overflow of water when strong rains come? And the excess water inundates the road and moves at a fast pace toward the side where there are a number of houses including ours.  So, in only an hour or even less, the flood water would already be lapping at our elevated floor but already submerging other houses nearby.

     Wow! This one is such an undesirable fruit of development since the number of sufferers is far more than that of the beneficiaries.

                                                               

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