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ROUGH CUTS | 2 Davao Cities: just a dream?

WHAT WE have in mind and have been manifesting by way of suggestion through this column – that is, to divide Davao City into two local government units for better delivery of social services and even or fair distribution of development – is one that is doomed to be just but a dream. No, not because it cannot be a reality but no one leader in the city has the courage to initiate its realization.

Yes, given the present political configuration in the local government, we can only think that no one in the local legislative body, as well as from among those representing the city in Congress, will ever attempt to even bring out the subject of dividing the city.  This is because of fear of getting a backlash from the ruling political leadership. 

It is common knowledge that members of both legislative bodies are so afraid of being cast out of the graces of the local political gods. They believe that it is only by aligning with the leadership and doing its bidding that they can hope to perpetuate in their positions.

If our readers will recall, in some columns back we wrote about the two faces of Davao City. We said then that we had gone to some of the remotest barangays of the city. Our personal observations of these most rural of places – the highland communities – have also been validated and confirmed by the many vloggers nowadays whose contents are vivid documentation of the places away from the city proper and the lives of those who live there, mostly our indigenous brothers.

In other words, we have a Davao City, roughly 40 percent of it, representing the face of extreme development and affluence, and a Davao City bearing the picture of abject poverty and hardship – that part of the supposed highly urbanized local government that is hardly reached by the delivery of social services because of distance and difficulty in accessing.

It is true that under the present local regime, concrete roads are already crossing mountain ranges that make it appear easy for highlanders to transport their products to the markets. But it is not actually the case. The bulk of mountain people especially the lumads, are already driven to the highest of the uplands or the deepest of ravines far, far away from the developing centers now controlled by settlers from the lowlands. Their predicament is courtesy of development aggression.

And why is this situation becoming prevalent in the city’s upland communities? It is most likely because only an insignificant few of our local and national officials have gone to these remote places in the uplands making them unaware of the conditions of the areas and the lives of the inhabitants thereat.

People residing in those remote barangays and villages have to walk for hours, crossing treacherous rivers and climbing steep mountains just to reach areas where they could possibly take a ride to the centers where they could seek government assistance or even just present their problems. And they are not even certain if they can reach the appropriate government offices and have an audience with the right officials to air their concerns.

It is for this reason that we feel the most effective way of responding to the problem of uneven distribution of social and even infrastructure development is to bring the government closer to the people that it is mandated to serve. After all, is not the government “for the people, by the people and of the people?” If this is to be lived through and pursued, dividing the largest city in the country in terms of land area into two and setting up two new local governments is the best option.

With the new cities in place then government centers can be established in separate strategic locations that will allow easier access for the people even by those who are living in the remotest of upland villages.

It will also start the emergence of new economic enclaves where livelihood activities will be made available. It then follows that new routes and destinations will be established going to the new government centers. It therefore ensures that the current burgeoning traffic gridlocks in present Davao City will be decongested.

Also, the likelihood is that local officials and even those representing national agencies will now have more opportunities to visit the remote places of the new cities or meet regularly the leaders of rural barangays since the new centers would now be less expensive to reach.

But again, we have to admit that given the present political set-up in the one big Davao City, our dream of it being divided into two, which perhaps is also shared by many who are not willing to come out in the open for obvious reasons, will continue to just be one nebulous dream for a long, long time. 

However, we will continue to hope that one day in the not-so-distant future one brave person will take the cudgel for us and the other silent dreamers for the same purpose.


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