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ROUGH CUTS  | A laudable project, but…

Defeated Vice-Presidential candidate in the May 2022 elections Prof. Walden Bello is optimistic he has the support and sympathy of the ordinary Davaoeno in a cyber libel case filed against him by former City Information Officer Jeffrey Tupaz.

The case stemmed from Bello’s statement posted in social media alleging that Tupaz was one of those present in a party held in a beach resort in Mabini, Davao de Oro last November 6, 2021. Tupaz happened to be part of the media group handling the communications component in the campaign of then Vice Presidential candidate Sara Duterte, the same position where Bello was also running.

According to Bello his optimism of the Davaoenos’ support is anchored on his belief that most residents of the city are for the “rule of law.” The accused added that so much is at stake in the cyber libel case that he now is facing trial as whatever is the decision of the court would impact deeply on the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.

Bello may be right in his expectation. But the question is, how many of the Davaoenos are willing to manifest openly their support for him? We will know as the trial of the professor’s case progresses.


This is one project of the local government that is a very welcome one, especially by our indigenous brothers mostly habituating in the highlands of the city..

We are referring to the planned construction of a shelter for Indigenous People (IP) at some sections in the compound of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC).
According to Indigenous Peoples’ Permanent Representative (IPMR) to the Ssangguniang Panlungsod of Davao City Rodolfo Mande the ordinance establishing the shelter has already been approved on its third and final reading last Tuesday, February 27.

One good thing about the project is that the same is already provided a budget for its construction, according to Mande. So with the passage of the ordinance authorizing its implementation, it would now be a matter of breaking ground to jumpstart the shelter construction.

The purpose of the shelter is to give better opportunity for the indigenous people to have safe haven when they come down from their highland villages to seek medical and related interventions in the city proper.

Mande could not have been more correct in his observation that Lumads who bring their relatives to downtown proper-based government hospitals like the SPMC are often left to the elements of nature while waiting for accommodation of their patients. They sleep on building sides, some on sidewalks with hardly anything to protect their bodies from the cold concrete and rain. Many others have similar observation to his.

According to Mande the IP shelter construction will cost about P42 million and it will require P10 million annually to operate including salaries and wages for those who will run the facility.
Of course we believe that the project could have been brought to the next higher level if some deep thinking was devoted to it. Say, there are district hospitals in Marilog and in Paquibato where most of our Lumad brothers are residing in the fastness of the districts’ mountain villages.

Would not have the P42 million budget for the shelter construction been more beneficial to our IP brothers and sisters if the money is to be used in expanding the physical facilities and services in those district hospitals?

Would not the P10 million annual estimated operating budget for the shelter be more useful if the money is used to pay the salaries and wages of personnel that will help the delivery of health services in those district hospitals?

There is no doubt about our IPs preferring to bring their patients in the district hospitals as these are closer to home and are easier for them to access. Besides, they may not need any shelter to stay in as they have more relatives and friends nearer the district hospital locations.
Moreover, the district hospitals are now accessible even from distant highland villages , though with some degree of difficulty and danger, through the so-called “habal-habal” 2-wheel transport.

Had the proponents of the IP shelter project thought of the improvement of district hospital facilities and services instead, the relatives of IP patients or those who are seeking medical services would be saved of much bigger expenses coming down to the cement jungle that is the city proper.


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