News and UpdatesIn the NewsProject information sheets a must

Project information sheets a must

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Last week my brother, Eddie, and I once again took a trip to our family farm in San Jose, La Libertad. As he was driving, I had a chance to look at the state of each town we drove through.  One of the things that struck me was the numbers of infrastructure projects along the way, many of which were associated with bridge- or road-widening.

Approaching each bridge-widening project, one could see large tarpaulins giving the public valuable information about the project. I was pleased to see the transparency of the government entity that initiated each of these projects. As taxpayers’ money is used to pay for these much-needed projects, it is only fair that the public is aware what their money is being spent on, how much of it, who won the bid to undertake the work, and who has oversight over the work.

Although putting up an information sheet for all to see may seem like an insignificant task compared to all the project tasks at hand, doing so has one of the greatest impacts on public perception. It helps the people put their trust in public officials who value public interest.

These days, it is very difficult to trust any public official as the majority seemed to have worked hard to make us lose our trust in them. It has become a common refrain: Want to get rich quick? Join politics!

Which brings me to the Pantawan project. This is a shoreline destruction project that has been going on for a number of years now, and yet, no one to this day can claim he/she has seen one of these information sheets titled “THIS IS WHERE YOUR TAXES GO”. We have no clue how much the budget is, where the money is coming from, and who is benefiting from this illegal work. So people tend to gossip and speculate: they talk about the politicians being in the pocket of the Chinese, that they have already been paid, and therefore, cannot back out now.

No one has seen the likes of these at or near the Pantawan area: Name of Project (e.g. Shoreline Protection or Reclamation), Project Cost, Project Benefits, Project Risks, Project Start and Projected End Dates, Project Contractor, whether it’s initiated by the Department of Public Works & Highways, the City Engineer’s Office, or by a private enterprise, the necessary permits and licenses, etc.

Having one of these information sheets posted at the Pantawan could cause the gossip and speculation to wither on the vine. You’d hope.

When we got to La Libertad, we made it a point to visit the local government unit’s proposed landfill site situated directly above our farm. Earlier this year, we protested to the Department of Environment & Natural Resources about the illegal project. Work had begun but there was no environmental compliance certificate. I also published an article here in the MetroPost, “On this I’d like to be proven wrong” to document my family’s protest.

The project was put on hold, thanks to the quick intervention by DENR, but they issued the LGU an ECC nonetheless.

I’ve scrutinized the ECC, and nowhere does it state the geological suitability of the site for a landfill. It did have dozens of requirements, such as washing of the trucks that come from there so there wouldn’t be transference of soil from the landfill to other areas. A sign signifying the ECC approval was also a requirement – which has been adhered to. Still, no public hearing.

Curiously, what we don’t see is the same information sheet that I’m writing about here. Is it that the LGU also wants to keep the public ignorant, following the lead of Dumaguete? Is it that they do not have the budget for it after all? Is it that the LGU feels daunted by the stringent safety and sanitary requirements of the DENR during project implementation? Is it that the LGU fears that what I warned about in my article could actually happen?

Whatever the reasons, we are grateful for the quick action from the DENR to halt the landfill project in La Libertad. The pause may be temporary but perhaps, the next batch of politicians – the La Libertad mayor, the barangay captains of Canlaro and Biga-a — will not be so quick to embark on an ill-advised project.

 

*****

Back to the Pantawan which has become a burr on my side. Since we celebrated the Dumaguete fiesta and now celebrating the Advent, the garish mish-mash of stalls we refer to as ukay-ukay has been back at the Pantawan. Although the stalls are set further out, closer to the open seas, it is still an eyesore. It takes away from the quiet elegance of establishments like Bethel GuestHouse that dot the boulevard, and other sights that were so pleasing to see as one approaches Dumaguete on a ship coming to shore. Now we see garish commercialism.

Way to go, Dumaguete! Go from elegance to trashy. Bakya na ta kaayo!

 

*****

Further to the discovery that another Jose Rizal statue is going to be erected at the Pantawan to the tune of P11 million, a reader asked, “Can’t this kind of money not be used toward a Dumaguete City hospital?  And to improve our social services?”

My sarcasm appears to be catching on as he started off by saying, “Funny, they will spend P11 million for a statue while prices of basic goods are skyrocketing. Hmmmmm….”

To the Dumaguete City Council and to Felipe Remollo, you really don’t get it, do you?

 

Diana Banogon-Bugeya (She/Her)

DianaBugeya@gmail.com

 

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