DAVAO CITY — With the latest case of boulders dislodging in Purok Juaryo, Maa due to soil movements at the Shrine Hills, urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) expressed trepidation that the rock movement will presage environmental destruction in the area, especially with the continued development of Maa hillslopes for high-end subdivisions.
Kadamay spokesperson Franchie Buhayan said the rock movement may point to more cases of environmental destruction in the future and is worth probing into in the light of the ongoing development of the delicate Maa hills.
“Any large-scale disturbances in the hillslopes and ecosystem of Maa Hills are unwelcome. We know it would cause the recurrence of landslides and flooding and the most vulnerable are the urban poor communities residing below the hills”, said Buhayan. Maa has a population of more than 32,000 in 54 puroks. It has 29 subdivisions and scores of urban poor communities beside the hills and below.
Kadamay along with Panalipdan, a broad alliance of environmentalists and peoples’ organizations, has criticized the ongoing development at Maa hills by Crown Asia, owned by real estate magnate and presidentiable senator Manuel Villar, and the David M. Consunji Urban Property Developers, Inc. (DMC-UPDI). Crown Asia has 30 hectares in the south side of the hills while DMC-UPDI has another 30 hectares in the north side.
Both developers were granted the preliminary approval and locational clearance (PALC) last November 26, 2008 by the Davao City council. The companies are awaiting for the approval of its development permit. However, these corporate housing developers have already started making roads from the Maa highway to the hills even without a Development Permit.
Kadamay also hits the government’s current market-oriented shelter policy, making it easy for the developers to own and “develop” subdivisions for capitalist’s profit insensitive and disregarding possible consequences to the poor and the environment.
“We call on the people of Maa to actively oppose the corporate housing developers from pursuing the projects in the Maa hills. We also ask the local government unit of Davao City to exercise its powers to protect the integrity of the ecosystem of Maa hills and the welfare of the people”, Buhayan concluded. #