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DAVAO CITY COUNCILOR DENIES BRIBERY IN HOUSING PROJECT APPROVAL

By ROGER M. BALANZA

A member of the Davao City Council took exception to an insinuation that dirty money was involved in the approval of a housing project in Barangay Dumoy where the Davao City Water  District (DCWD) draws out drinking water for the city’s 1.5 million residents.

The Dumoy aquifer,  an underground water reservoir where the DCWD pumps out the city’s water needs, is located in Dumoy.

Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, the presiding officer when the project was approved during the City Council’s regular session on Tuesday, denied there was bribery in the project approval.

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Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang said he would seek a review of the project whether or not  it complied with requirements.

In his morning radio program “Banat” on ABS/CBN’s DxAB radio on Friday, broadcaster Jun Bersamin said that there could be “pabaon” for city councilors in the approval of the 590-lot housing project atop the Dumoy aquifer.

 “Pabaon” is a Tagalog word meaning give-away gift that took an ugly meaning after it was referred to as millions of pesos of illegally-sourced  money on top of retirement benefits given to retiring generals of the Philippine National Police. The give-away gift erupted into a scandal years ago and sparked a full-blown investigation.

“Basig pabaon ni,” said Bersamin in his program. Several city councilors of the City Council headed by Vice Mayor Bernie Al-ag  will be winding up their terms before the 2019 mid-term elections.

Reacting to the insinuation, Villafuerte called Bersamin by phone and in the on-air interview protested the anchorman’s insinuation that there was “pabaon” or bribery in the approval.

Villafuerte also said the approval of the project was not hers alone but the collective decision of the City Council.

lopezIn the same program, Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, interviewed also by phone, said he would want the approval of the project reviewed. The project was proposed by Councilor Elias Lopez, chairman of the Committee on Housing and Urban Development.    

In the program, Bersamin questioned the approval as the Dumoy area is a protected water resource area.

He also said that the property, where the project would rise, belonging to the Inigo family,  is still subject of a land ownership claim  by holders of  Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA). A CLOA is a title issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to tenants of land properties covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the government.

In addition, Bersamin said that the City Council also approved the project even without clearance from a City Hall office regulating developments in the city’s water resource areas.  Developments in the Dumoy area is regulated by the Davao City Water Resource Management Ordinance. The project approved by the City Council on Tuesday is a low-cost housing project that is banned by another water conservation ordinance, the Davao City Watershed Protection, Conservation and Management Ordinance.

In the past, there were accusations that city councilors milked housing developers for money in exchange for approval of housing projects.

Several years ago, a group of city councilors dubbed as the “DLBM Group,” surfaced as allegedly behind the extortion racket of fleecing developers. The bribery scandal prompted the City Council to conduct its own investigation. The City Council also passed a resolution requesting the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to ferret out the group that allegedly carried the first letters of the names of the involved councilors.

In the program, Bersamin also recalled the case of  a soft drinks company applying for permit to establish a manufacturing plant in Toril.

Then chairman of the Committee on Housing and Urban Development, Councilor Arnolfo Cabling, publicly admitted having received a large sum from the company as its application was being processed by the City Council.   

NBI PROBES SHFC SOCIAL HOUSING LAND BUYING CASE

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has started its investigation of the alleged anomalies involving an official of the Social Housing Finance Corp., a government-owned and controlled corporation under the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.

cabling-4The NBI’s special action unit is looking into the allegation that SHFC president Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling received a P4 million check from an organized community group as payment for a property included in the SHFC’s program. 

The property, located in Barangay Ilang in Bunawan District in Davao City, was owned by Cabling’s family. Cabling is also a former village chairman of Barangay Ilang.

SHFC provides housing assistance for organized communities belonging to informal settlers. The SHFC’s primary mandate is to buy home lots for homeless urban poor families.

An NBI insider said the bureau will also look into other land-buying transactions for alleged over-pricing  made by Cabling for the  socialized housing program of the SHFC, which reportedly has a budget of P4 billion.

Initial investigation, according to the insider who begged anonymity, revealed the modus operandi in the scam: the price of the land would be jacked up and the overprice divided among officers of the homeowners association, the land owner and “an official” of the SHFC.

Cabling, a former Davao City councilor, was appointed president of SHFC by President Rodrigo Duterte in June 2017.

The bureau is also investigating an allegation that Cabling spent P1 million in government funds to pay for two months’ stay at a posh hotel in Makati for his grassroots action team and P2 million for plane tickets for the team from Davao to Manila.  

“The project in question is merely a continuation of community-initiated efforts to acquire land, which started more than a decade ago. Initial payment for the other phases of the project was made a long time ago, even before Cabling became president of SHFC,” Lorie Bundoc, SHFC strategic communications division manager.

“The transaction was between the community and the landowners. The landowners did not transact directly with SHFC. Everything went through SHFC’s regular process of loan application,” she added. 

She also denied that government funds were used to pay for the hotel stay and plane fare. (with PhilStar report)

 

THE FIRST INDIGENOUS PEOPLE REPRESENTATIVE IN DAVAO CITY COUNCIL

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THE DAVAO CITY INDIGENOUS PEOPLE MANDATORY REPRESENTATION IN THE DAVAO CITY COUNCIL is mandated by City Ordinance No. 0448-10, Series of 2011.

Ordinance No. 0448-10, PROVIDING MANDATORY REPRESENTATION FOR THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN THE CITY COUNCIL OF DAVAO, was authored by Councilor Arnolfo Cabling, chairman of the Committee on Cultural Communities and Muslim Affairs. Davao City journalist Roger M. Balanza, publisher and editor of the weekly paper and online news site THE DURIAN POST, Cabling’s private legislative consultant, assisted in the research, conduct of consultations and formulation of committee reports, the ordinance and resolutions.

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Balanza documented the process and the installation of the first Mandatory Representative, Datu Berino Mambo-o of the Ata Tribe of Paquibato District , in news reports and a four-color center page of the Durian Post weekly. 

READ MORE 2LUMAD MANDATORY REPRESENTATIVE

MANDATORY REPRESENTATION FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN DAVAO CITY COUNCILMANDATORY REPRESENTATION FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN DAVAO CITY COUNCIL

MANDATORY IP REP

Amnesty International, Akbayan Partylist impressed by election of Indigenous peoples mandatory representative in Davao City CouncilAmnesty International, Akbayan Partylist impressed by election of Indigenous peoples mandatory representative in Davao City Council

DURIAN POST SPECIAL

ANCESTRAL DOMAIN CONFLICT

PROTECTING THE LUMADSPROTECTING THE LUMADS

Davao natives win fight over ancestral domain rights

 

Farmers blast Davao City watershed code

 

Saying their rights were not taken into consideration, farmers in Davao City are asking the Davao City Council to take a look-see at the Watershed Protection, Conservation and Management Code for amendments.

City Ordinance 0310-07 also known as the Watershed Code authored by councilor Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling, as then chair of the environment committee, was approved by the 14th City Council on February 23, 2007.

The code laid down regulations in about 34,000 hectares of watershed areas which were delineated and classified into conservation areas, agro-forestry non-tillage areas and prime agricultural lands.

At the core of the watershed code is the Third District terrain analysis and study conducted by the City Planning and Development Office and the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2005, which is now embedded in the city zoning plan.

Affected by the code are land-owners growing bananas in property classified as conservation areas by the code.

Chua, convenor of the Third District Landowners Association, said some lands were declared as agro-forestry and non-tillage areas and farmers are clueless about their status or regulations that would guide their farming activities.

 

“Our barangay was declared an agro-forestry non-tillage area and we are at a loss what exactly non-tillage means,” said a farmer from Baracayo, New Daliaon..

While the code has yet to be implemented, Pellicer said farmers are now sleepless over losing their right to farm for survival

“The issue of our rights to the full utilization of our property was not addressed and whether or not the government will purchase our lands for conversion to non-tillage agro-forestry development,” said another farmer.

Chua said Third District farmers were not invited to the Cabling committee hearings. While he acknowledged that the intent was to protect the watershed code which his group supports, Chua said amendments should be introduced to also protect farmers’ right to survival.

 

THE DURIAN POST COLUMN —Avoiding a water crisis

THEDURIANBEAT

By ROGER M. BALANZA

Davao City may be blessed with its water sources, but there is no guarantee this God-given gift could last forever.

Studies show that the city’s underground reservoir located mostly in the Dumoy area may be depleted in 50 years if no alternative source is identified to ease pressure on this source where the Davao City Water District presently pumps out water for domestic use of the Dabawenyos.

With the city’s population growing at a fast pace, demands could double in 50 years—a scenario that should make imperative identification of the alternative sources.

What is happening today in Manila which is being hounded by a severe water crisis could also happen in Davao City.

No less than DCWD spokesperson Imelda Magsuci has said that what is happening in the capital could indeed happen here.

Magsuci’s pronouncement should not be taken lightly. She is an expert on water and water resources having been with DCWD for so long.

Magsuci also is in possession of several studies conducted on the city’s aquifers  and their figures could only make more of a necessity DCWD’s intention to find an alternative source like the Tamugan River that it wants to tap for a surface water project.

Magsuci said that by 2011 or next year, the city’s ground water supply would be equal to the water demand.

While DCWD for a while would be able to deliver water to Dabawenyos with that kind of ratio, the aquifer would eventually be squeezed dry if an alternative source is not tapped.

Magsuci points out a study by the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) which indicated that with the daily extraction equal to demand, there would later be severe depletion of the underground water reservoir.

If you wonder why DCWD is hell-bent about building the Tamugan Surface Water Project at the soonest, it is because the project is the only hope for DCWD to meet its commitments in the future to the Dabawenyos.

The DCWD presently pumps out about 200,000 per gallons per minute from the underground reservoir—-enough to supply the city.

The Tamugan project when in full operation could provide that same volume.

This would mean that the Dumoy aquifer would be saved from depletion and allowed to replenish its stock while Tamugan comes in as an alternative source.

But conserving the city’s water sources should not be the be-all if we want to ensure supply of water for the future generation.

Managing, preserving and conserving our forests is the first step to ensure the supply. Davao City should be thankful for the Watershed Protection, Conservation and Management Code which has set into place the mechanics for the protection of our watershed areas.

This Code should be implemented to the fullest now if we don’t want to see thirsty Dabawenyos in future unable to find water due to our wanton disregard for the environment and our forest and our water resources.