DURING that meeting initiated by either the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) or the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in connection with the much-delayed implementation of the Samal Island-Davao City (SIDC) connector bridge project, we keenly kept our eyes on all the television footages presented in the news broadcast last Monday afternoon.
Our primary intention was to determine whether the major stakeholder complaining about the span’s alignment was represented in that meeting. We are referring to the Rodriguez-Lucas families, owners of Paradise Island Resort which claimed that the Samal side approach would have an adverse effect on them, their business and those people dependent on the resort for their livelihood.
Personally, we believe that the presence of anyone from the resort was extremely important as it would have allowed them to present their side of the issue. The process adopted in that meeting would have been fair because, with the complaining stakeholder’s representative, the public would have been clearly apprised that despite the project’s good intentions, some feel that they are adversely affected and that they have not been given the opportunity to air their views that are not really a manifestation of being against the project per se, but only after some modifications in the route to be taken.
Unfortunately, we did not see anyone from the Rodriguez-Lucas families, which was unusual considering that they are the most conspicuous among the non-conforming stakeholders. So we find ways to get in touch with any of the Resort executives to find out if they have official knowledge of the supposed site inspection tour conducted by officials of NEDA, DPWH, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the top officials of the local government units of Davao del Norte province and the Island Garden City of Samal.
We finally talked over the telephone with Mr. Juli Rodriguez III last Wednesday morning or two days after the Samal meeting. Mr. Rodriguez said they were not invited or advised to send even just a representative to that Monday meeting. He added that the resort people only knew about the so-called gathering of top agencies and LGUs of Davao del Norte and IGaCoS officials by word of mouth
Even as we had some reservations on Mr. Rodriguez’s claim, we cannot help but believe him because no one from the family or the resort will invent words just to get sympathy for their cause. Besides, in the close to half a century that we have lived in Davao City, all that we have been told of Julian Rodriguez Sr.’s family are good things, including their philanthropic activities.
Hence, it is our take that their opposition to the recommended route affecting their family properties and businesses is not in any way an attempt to deprive IGaCoS and its people of their desired socio-economic aspiration. Rather, it is seeking one minor concession to help those Samalenos. They would be denied their livelihood should the resort be forced to stop operation as a consequence of the bridge’s construction.
Of course, it is a given that the government has every authority to pursue whatever project it wants to implement if it is for the good of society. However, in the case of the Samal Bridge, the earlier feasibility study (FS) made by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) negates the argument that the latest is the most appropriate in terms of engineering and cost aspects. Why, were those hired by JICA to undertake the study so blind that they did not see the flight route of departing and arriving airplanes at the Sasa Airport? Were they also not aware of the presence of the seaport in the shoreline fronting Samal where all the ships, big and small, do their call?
They certainly were no greenhorns in the business to ignore all surrounding conditions in the route they proposed then.
Anyhow, all of those are water under the bridge now. As NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said during the Monday meeting, the route recommended in the FS prepared by the Hong Kong-based consultant cannot anymore be revised.
Hence those opposing the alignment might as well live with the fact that, in their case, they are up against a granite wall and the consensus of the people both of Samal and the mainland that development cannot wait forever, even if it means the fate of some will have to be sacrificed.
Of course, the adversely affected stakeholders can still avail of one more legal option. But that may take another long time to resolve. They certainly cannot stand the risk of being called obstructionists to a well-meaning government project. They have too much of a name to protect.
And by the way, for those who are wondering why the Rodriguezes are taking the initiatives for the Lucas family in their desire to have the bridge’s route transferred, the elder sister of the Rodriguez patriarch, Dr. Julian Rodriguez Jr., Monina, is married to a Lucas in Luzon. That is why.
So the City Hall of Davao, the seat of operation of the local government, is now an International Standard Operating (ISO) certified public entity? The certification acquired is that of a 9001-2015. The process of undertaking the various requirements for the grant of the certification was started during the immediate past term of then Mayor and now Vice President of the Philippines Sara Duterte-Carpio.
It was relentlessly pursued, and thanks that, the certification was granted only after three months into the administration of Sara’s successor, younger brother Baste. Such is a feat not easily made available. Thus, it is worth the employees’ continuing practice of the systems carried as criteria in the certification grant.
After all, any ideal operating system can only be as good as the people tasked to implement it in any organization’s day-to-day operations.
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