Between environment and the future

COMMENTARY

BY ROGER M. BALANZA

Did Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and his City Council err in approving the Aboitiz coal-fired power plant?

            Let us count the ways.

            Environmental risk was the biggest issue raised against the P25 billion project, so far the single biggest investment here in Davao City.

            Environmental protection today is a universal mantra that is also espoused by Dabawenyos.

            Today, modern technology and public vigilance always play critical roles in seeing to it that industrial plants are properly equipped with mitigating measures to at least minimize their impact on the environment.

            The Aboitiz plant should have all the necessary measures and tools in order to operate without threatening people and the environment.

            Its import to progress and development and the economy in general must be taken into consideration hand in hand with environmental damage controls in order to balance its existence with the need for power.

            Davao City today is a growing metropolis with a fast-growing population whose needs… basic services, employment, food security, etc….must be responded to by their local government.

            The local government however needs money to be able to respond to these needs.

            Without money and the local government failing to respond to the problems, Davao City would become a chaotic community.

            To raise the money, the local government needs business to pay taxes to run its machinery.

            Electric power is a vital requirement for an economy to thrive.

            Like many other cities in Mindanao, Davao City in the near future would be facing a power crisis.

            The implication of this is that with lack of power to fuel business the road ahead is clear: the local economy would never progress to raise fund for the local government to provide the services needed by the people.

            There are many ways to tame projects like the Aboitiz coal-fired plant.

            Among them is seeing to it that it has the necessary tools of international standards to mitigate if not eliminate its risk to people and the environment.

            The local government also has the power in its hands to stop its operation once it violates environmental laws.

            Poverty, misery, hunger….the ills of a troubled economy, has their cure only in one thing: thriving economy with business paying taxes to the local government for it to be able to provide the services needed by the people.

            Vice Mayor Duterte and the city council therefore made a correct decision when they voted for the Aboitiz power plant.

            The vote was a vote for investment, progress and development and a vote for a city ready for its march to the future.

            FLASHBACK TO 1988. When Mayor Duterte first sat at City Hall as mayor, he chose a path that led us to where we are now.

            He chose the platform of peace and order as the guide post for his governance. During that time peace and order was shaky and investors were fleeing the city.

            He thought then that, during that crucial period, peace and order was the right formula to bring back investors and regain the people’s trust and confidence on the local government.

            When Vice Mayor Duterte and the City Council endorsed the Aboitiz project that would provide adequate power supply for the years to come, they were endorsing the city’s march of progress to the future.

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