BAD NEWS for the people of Southern Mindanao: “COVID cases in the Davao Region are rising.”
This is clearly manifested in the figure of the increase from the period May 2 until the other day, where over 200 cases of those infected were recorded.
But the good news, according to the Department of Health (DOH), is that the new cases are apparently mild as the hospital bed utilization by COVID patients remains low.
The DOH, however, has issued a stern warning to the people, not just of the Davao Region but of the entire nation, not to be complacent despite the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the emergency status of the COVID situation in the whole world is now lifted.
And we fully agree that each local government unit must be given the leeway to craft its own policy regarding the lifting of relaxation of COVID restrictions in their area. After all, the LGU officials are the ones who know exactly the situation on the ground.
That is, if they are coordinating very well with their local health officials. But if for some reason they are not, then woe unto the people of the places affected. They can say goodbye to convenience.
For a while, we thought that the issue/s attendant to implementing the multi-billion pesos Samal Island-Davao City Connector Project was finally settled when the President came to the city to lead the ground-breaking ceremonies.
We thought as well that those complaining against the alignment of the bridge led by the Rodriguez family at the Samal side and by some property developers whose sites are affected when the project is in place had already come up with some kind of a win-win agreement with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) when the contractor was allowed to start boring holes to test the solidity of the ground to carry the weight of the bridge and the additional load when vehicles will begin using the span.
But no, the Rodriguez-led anti-alignment location (not against the bridge project), backed by several academe-based environmentalists armed with their fully documented studies, petitioned the Court of Appeals to consider changing course.
The reason is simple. They do not want the marine life and other resources in a stretch fronting the Rodriguez-owned resort disturbed and possibly be gone forever. The underwater stretch of Pakiputan channel has long been taken care of by the clan and the environmentalist groups in Davao City. The perpetuation of the family’s resort business is merely secondary. However, they feel sorry for the fate of the establishment employees, who would be affected by the possible closure of their business.
In other words, the Rodriguez-led struggle to align the bridge is heavily tilted towards protecting the environment, which is global in scope.
Meanwhile, the struggle of the other groups against the bridge alignment is more on the issue of business survival and money.
The groups are holding on to their properties and seemingly not giving even an inch for the bridge’s right of way. Meaning, what the government is offering them in exchange for the right-of-way may only be a pittance; that only a huge amount could possibly budge them from the position.
Now that the Court of Appeals denied their petition, they have to elevate the same to the Supreme Court.
With the bridge project already long-delayed and the people in the Davao Region have been anxiously waiting for its realization, especially during the term of Davaoeno President Rodrigo Duterte, patience is running thin.
It is, therefore, our take that the High Court must act and resolve the petition of the Bridge alignment oppositionists with dispatch. If the Supreme Court justices believe that the bridge project stands to have more beneficiaries than sufferers, then affirm the Appellate Court’s dismissal of the petition.
If the high court believes that a possible “injustice” to a few needs to be redressed, then it has to rule in favor of the petitioners immediately. Let no one bear false expectations.
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