Davao City council in 2017: Drinking challenge, Pulong’s resignation, and more

IN FAVOR. Majority of the 18th City Council members vote to pass the Anti-Unattended Bag Ordinance penned by Councilors Bernard Al-ag and Nilo Abellera on Tuesday, July 11, with the exception of Councilor Mabel Sunga-Acosta, who abstained. Acosta said she is in favor of the original ordinance but she finds the final draft “unreasonable” as it also fines violators whose act of leaving unattended bags did not cause panic to the public. (Paulo C. Rizal/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – This is a look back to what transpired at the Davao City Council in 2017.

The 18th City Council ended the year with a total of 48 regular sessions held.

“This has been a productive year for the council and I’m looking for a more productive year,” Bernard Al-ag, Majority Floor leader said on Tuesday, December 12.

Here’s a glimpse of discussions, ordinances, resolutions in the City Council.

The Apo Agua bulk water project

It was not a smooth sail for the Apo Agua Infrastractura Inc.’s (AAII) bulk water project. It took over four months for AAII, the joint venture between Aboitiz Equity Ventures and JV Angeles Construction Corporation, to get the council’s approval to construct a P10-billion water treatment facility in Baguio District.

It underwent a long hurdle in the council as local legislators made sure no environmental laws were violated as the facility is situated in a watershed area.

The project, which is the biggest water project in the country, is aimed to address the looming water crisis particularly in the second district of the city.

Aeon Towers crane issue

Aeon Towers project manager Engineer Buboy D. Espinosa was grilled by the councilors in one of its regular session in October, after news broke out that some airlines complained of flight misappropriations due to the exceeding height of the crane atop the constructed tower.

Based on Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the exceeding height of the crane poses great danger to air passengers because it obstructs aircraft traffic in and out of the city.

This outraged both Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Mayor Sara Duterte and urged them to give a five-day ultimatum for developers to dismantle the cranes atop the 33-story building or else they will never be allowed to do business in the city.

Online payment system

This ordinance proposed by Joanna M. Bonguyan-Quilos was aimed to provide ease of doing business in the city. The approval of the “Electronic Online Payment System” ordinance was eyed to minimize over-the-counter transactions and provide the public faster and convenient system in paying taxes and other government fees.

Drinking challenge

Representatives from the Davao City Water District (DCWD) found themselves in a drinking challenge with the councilors after they told the council that the “yellowish water” at Barangay Cabantian and other neighboring areas is “safe to drink.”

Al-ag challenged officials of DCWD, which spokesperson Bernard Delima immediately accepted and told councilors they are welcome to watch board members and officials drink the “yellowish” water.

Residents in the second district of the city have been complaining about the lack of water supply and quality of water in the area. DCWD’s water quality division maintained that despite the yellowish water, it is safe and potable.

Anti-unattended bag ordinance

Following the clash between the government forces and Islamic State-linked Maute group in Marawi City, the ordinance passed in July was meant to strengthen the city’s security measures against terroristic attacks.

The anti-unattended bag ordinance prohibits and punishes the act of leaving bags unattended in public places within the city. Violators of the ordinance will be penalized accordingly. A higher fee will be fined if such actions caused “undue panic.”

However, one councilor abstained from voting. Councilor Maria Belen Sunga-Acosta said that the ordinance was “unreasonable” because it fines even those whose act of leaving bags unattended in public did not cause undue panic.

Anti-Terrorist group ordinance

In a bid to prevent spillover of terrorism in the city, the council approved the ordinance also known as “anti-ISIS” ordinance. The measure seeks to punish “the act of recruitment and membership” to any terrorist groups. Any related acts of terrorism and support to the said act will also be punished, according to the ordinance.

Diversion Road landslide

Over 40 families were forced to leave their homes along Diversion Road while thousands were stuck in monstrous traffic which continued for several days after a minor landslide occurred in a portion of one of the busiest highways in Davao City.

Representatives of different offices were called by the council to explain the tragedy. According to the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau’s (MGB) geohazard study that was presented in the council in 2011, there should be no human intervention and development on its slope because the ground was unstable. MGB Geologist Beverly Brebante said it was only in 2013 that the City Council designated Shrine Hills into a “protected zone.”

Apart from the torrential rains, Brebante cited that the landslide was partly caused by the presence of developments in the hills, including a resort, residential subdivisions and broadcasting stations. The Department of Public Works and Highway’s two multi-million road-widening projects were also noted to have weakened the stability of the ground.

But DPWH geologist Thea Peguit explained that an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was secured by the office prior to the implementation of the project.

‘Liquid waste’ spill

The council called out the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) to explain the leaking of liquid waste from the sanitary landfill in New Carmen, Tugbok district.

According to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 11 the spread of liquid waste or leachate was due to the overflowing wastewater treatment facility, posing a great threat to residents as water in the nearby Matina Pangi river is being contaminated.

Meanwhile, CENRO said the office has cleaned up the filtration facility of the landfill to prevent further spread and assured to improve operations in the sanitary landfill.

The council allocated P100 million for the construction of a new landfill and P42 million for the rehabilitation of the current one.

‘Paperless’ session

With its hope to reduce the use of paper every session, the City Council spent at least P1.3 million to buy laptop units for local legislators to use. Instead of printing the agenda and other attachments, copies of documents will be distributed electronically.

Al-ag said 27 units of laptops worth P50,000 each were already purchased and is ready to be used “exclusively during sessions and their review of agenda” starting next year. An estimated 50 kilos of paper is used by the council every session or at least 8,000 kilos of paper every year.

IP attire ordinance

In the belief that Lumad attire is sacred, Councilor Bai Halila Sudagar, Indigenous People Mandatory Representative and chairperson of the Committee on Cultural Communities and Muslim Affairs, pushed for the approval of the IP attire ordinance.

The measure outlaws the improper use of traditional attire during parades, exhibits, presentations and other related public activities. Event organizers, performers, choreographers who want to use IP attire for the purpose of representing tribes of Davao City must first secure a certification from the Office of Cultural Community Affairs.

4 PH heroes replace Duterte family

It was a shocker when portraits of the Duterte clan- President Rodrigo Duterte, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte went out of sight at the City Council. Instead, four photos of national heroes – Marcelo Del Pilar, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna were placed at the below the emblem of the council.

This was in line with the memorandum released by the Office of the City Mayor encouraging departments and offices to display or exhibit photographs, paintings and other forms of visual representation of Philippine heroes “instead of photographs, paintings or other forms of visual representations of elected or appointed government officials.”

Josephine Nabua, a Local Legislative Staff Officer of the City Council, said the four heroes were picked by Vice Mayor Duterte pointing that they are “freemason heroes” which the younger Duterte is a member of.

Ban protest in Panacañang

Following the letter request of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) sent to the Mayor Duterte, Acosta, chairperson the committee on public safety drafted an ordinance to ban all forms of protest outside “Panacañang” or the so-called Malacaňang of the South.

The PSG said this is to ensure that threats, hazards and security vulnerabilities are addressed since the President holds official meetings there. The proposed ban also covers areas along the road in front of the DPWH, stretching from crossing Panacan going to the bridge near Eastern Mindanao Command.

However, activists highly opposed PSG’s request, saying the prohibition will tamper the public’s right to peaceful assemblies, freedom of expression, and redress of grievances.

Car park incentives ordinance

This proposed ordinance was set to entice land developers and property owners in the city to put up car parking spaces or buildings in the city by giving special real property and tax incentives. Al-ag said this could be a good deal to both the city and businessmen as City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is eyeing to strictly ban street parking as a way to decongest the worsening traffic in the city.

Pulong resigns

It came as a shock on a day they were supposed to deliberate a proposal to fund rehabilitation for communities hit by Tropical Storm Vinta. On December 25, the council’s presiding officer, Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, resigned.

The official said he was taking responsibility for two political scandals which implicated him: the smuggling allegations at the Bureau of Customs and the “very public squabble” with his daughter.

Duterte would be considered on leave until the end of 2017, but many have been wondering who will be replacing him as vice mayor.

His successor, according to the mayor, will be a councilor with the highest votes depending on the percentage of voters in a district. (davaotoday.com)