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ROUGH CUTS | Why are we becoming a ‘Water World?’

Vic N. Sumalinog

THE other night was the worst that ever happened in Davao City in terms of flooding incidents over the past many years.

     Yes, flood waters were all over in almost every low-lying area in the city with the deepest at the stretch between the regional office of the Commission on Audit and the Police Regional Office XI on C.P. Garcia Diversion highway going to Panacan. Some houses at La Verna Hills Subdivision, the perennially-flooded housing enclave in the city, were submerged up to the roof top by the raging water roughly between 8 to 9 o’clock Monday evening. 

     We also learned through the many posts by some netizens that areas like Quezon Blvd., Uyanguren, some parts of Buhangin, Matina Crossing up to GSIS, the Ulas-Bukidnon-Davao road junction and even in some parts of Toril district were inundated with rain water. In the barangay in Tugbok District where we have been hibernating for the last one year and a half due to the pandemic, flood again hit the place in just a day after our house was also submerged in about a foot of rampaging flood water.

     It was in fact the reason why our column failed to come out yesterday because we had to lead the family in cleaning our house floor of flood dirt and in disposing of the debris that littered in our yard that were carried by the rampaging water.

     The flooding even with just an hour of heavy rains, we believe, is the price that we are now paying for the omissions made more intentionally than not, by our city development planners both in the past and present. Look, in crafting the city’s zoning plan, where are the areas designated for residential subdivisions located? Where are the areas intended for industrial plants assigned? And look at how housing subdivisions are developed? The ordinance is in fact somewhat ambiguous in terms of allowing the cutting of trees; in the routes of drainage pipes and canals, even in the diameter of the pipes used for the drainage system.

     In the development process some of the subdivision developers are even wantonly levelling off hills just to acquire more sellable spaces to prospective buyers. One only needs to pass by the C.P. Garcia Diversion road, specifically at the vicinity of the mothballed Davao City Sports Complex. The hills there are alive not anymore with “the sound of music” but with the whirr of backhoes and bulldozers ramming on the hills and scoping the debris from the levelled off mountain. And yes, in some parts of the same location the hills are already gone and in their stead are houses standing quite mockingly at the neighboring subdivisions that are now serving as catch basins of the run-off water that used to be absorbed by the trees in the levelled hills.

     And for anyone who happens to have visited the Cabantian-Indangan-Acasia area in the north of Buhangin district, easily the questions that would crop up in his or her mind are, “Where are the trees; where are the hills; where are the creeks?” Everything in these areas are sprawling low-end, middle end, and high-end residential subdivisions. Along with this change in the landscape also comes the appearance of commercial establishments which somehow adds to the completion of the rape of the city’s environment.

     Now urbanization is also crawling on the other sides of Davao City like Toril district, Tugbok, Calinan, and even the distant Marilog and Baguio districts. Large tracts of lands have been bought by subdivision developers and business entities especially the country’s retail chains mainly for land banking purposes. In fact we heard lately that a massive plain located in a valley surrounded by the upland barangays of New Carmen, Matina Pangi, Matina Biao and Tacunan is now due for development by a famous memorial cemetery developer. The road leading to the area is already concreted and the lots are offered at a promotional price. And between Tacunan and barangay Ula the once sprawling coconut plantation owned by the family of the Layugs of Mintal which has roughly an area of between thirty to forty hectares, is now on its initial stage of conversion into a huge housing project by a nationally popular property developer firm. All the coconut palms and other fruit trees thereat are already gone thereby making the entire area devoid of its water absorptive capacity. So, what is likely to happen in the next few days? Bigger volume of rainwater will be added to the already silted Talomo River. And that makes the Ulas-Bangkal area, the Mintal proper and its outlying barangays even more prone to deep flooding in the very near future. But that is where the march of supposed progress is headed to. 

       As this development is evolving the flooding scenario of the city is becoming worse by the day. Shall our city planners just remain complacent and refuse to recognize the exceedingly clear negative impact of the trade-off attendant thereof? The government and society must now be wary.

     Clearly, our planners are way lagging behind in responding to the need to have a balance in the city’s development and preservation of the environment. But as they say it is better late than never. They must now look into all aspects of regulatory policies that have been used in guiding the development of the city.  Implement to the letter those that are still applicable and amend those that are obsolete. Otherwise, we will soon see a “Water World” in an erstwhile typhoon-free and the once flood-devoid Davao.




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