By Nikki Abigail Delgado

“Our environment is our life”, says an illuminating slogan promoting Davao City’s equitable environment in the city’s local tourism site.

This became questionable when the real estate industry addressed that Davao City’s CLUP (Comprehensive Land Use Plan) should be amended, scrapping 10 percent of land allocation for environmental reserves and integrating it instead to the 30 percent open space requirement already existing in national law.

The real estate industry thinks it is problematic for the state to pursue the 10 percent allocation for green space existing in the city’s CLUP and another 30 percent as mandated by law. Combined, this would result to having only 60 percent left of the total land area for the development of the city’s subdivisions.

Davao City Councilor Victorio U. Advincula even goes far as to saying that such would definitely cut costs and attract more investors upon amendment of the city’s CLUP. He cites the city is expecting a large influx of investors this year.

Consequently, the 70 percent land allocation is needed for road developments and better sanitation maintenance in order to lower property rates since the inclusion of the required Adding the 10 percent green spaces required by the CLUP would only further burden developers.

The clamors of concerned groups and environmentalists who were outraged by the amendment were hushed as Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte vetoed the amendment, to quote, “. . . vague and ambiguous, prejudicial to public interest and an exercise of legislative power in ultra veris (beyond the powers)”.

There is a great deal of environment-development equilibrium that a developing city like Davao has to uphold. While it stands in its image amongst other Philippine cities as one of the “safest” and “most livable” cities in the world, it cannot deny the fact that it has to step up on the pace of its urban development.

We might say that is pleasing to see green pastures, it is undisputable that greater profit awaits in development. However, the issue here is not about the will power of the city to engage in innovation. It is not even about the city’s capability nor capacity to sustain larger transactions to develop profit. It is about the very principles and ideologies of a city, which claims “Life is here”, are being compromised.

If the city council compromises the 10 percent allocation for green spaces and approves it for the sake of urban development, the decision will yield a domino effect. For instance, the claim that the removal of the 10 percent allocation would definitely attract more investors and consumers.

Following this, larger proceeds from the sale of properties would most likely demand larger expansions for subdivision since both the city government and companies think that it the greatest contributing variable to the city’s economy.

However, the city council fails to remember one factor. It fails to recognize that the removal of the 10 percent allocation is not the only contributing factor that affects the city’s economic development. Moreover, they fail to acknowledge that the 10 percent allocation is necessary.

It is not merely the exempting 10 percent of a subdivision’s total land area from development. It is not just an effort to preserve what has been left of nature as urbanization makes it mark. It is not solely preserving a mere collection of trees, grass, weeds, and plants.

Rather, it is the preservation of the principles of a city. A city that needs uphold to its advocacy for peace, cleanliness and environmental preservation while still aiming for economic prosperity and development.

If compromises will continue that give more to economic development than to the environment, then what would be left for development to take place? If this would be thought as a long term investment, would the yield be worth the cost? Some things are worth the risk, but never the principles. Otherwise, Davao City’s slogan would have to be amended too.