Uncertainty hounds poor amid growth, development prospect of Davao City

Dec. 27, 2018

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The city’s supposed strengthening of the local economy continues to draw in investments in the year 2018—perhaps a glimpse of a growing empire in the south. But where do some Davaoenos see themselves amid all this hype?

As Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio addressed the city last October with a revealing growth of the local economy in a bullish past four years with many businessmen continued to express interest in investing in the city.

“With the increased interest in Davao City from potential investors, both local and foreign, we expect that this trend will continue in the coming years,” Duterte-Carpio said.

“We have P272 billion in capitalization,” the mayor said. “This is already evident in the economic profile of the city,” citing the city’s 2017 growth rate of 10.9 percent—even higher than the country’s 6.7-percent growth rate—attributed in thriving business and tourism industries in Davao.

In the first months of 2018, some 43,000 businesses operated in Davao City, 25.3 higher compared in the same period last year.

The city also recorded some 1.16 million visitors in the first half of 2018, almost reaching the 2 million tourist arrivals in 2017.

This year, the city government also unveiled a 27-year Infrastructure Modernization Plan (IM4Davao) worth almost P300 billion. Listed are short, medium and long-term high priority projects they want the national government and investors to focus on.

The plan is funded by JICA for the city government and NEDA and focuses on eight priority sectors: environment/land use, road transport, public transport, traffic management, water supply, sewerage, solid waste, and industrial development.

The city government created an infrastructure plan as it is expected to perform key regional and international roles.

“In order to satisfy these roles, Davao City needs to prioritize infrastructure development as a driver of urban development to guide investments in housing, commercial, business, manufacturing, and tourism,” IM4Davao project manager Ken Kumazawa quoted in a report.

Davao City Chamber of Commerce President Arturo Milan, in a press conference, said that real estate projects became one of the prime drivers of the robust economic status of the city.

In 2017, the Philippine Statistics Authority records revealed that Davao City has the largest agricultural land converted into industrial-commercial, with 34 percent of converted spaces developed into subdivisions and condominiums.

Developers look at it as an opportunistic investment.

Evidently, there are several condominiums like Aeon Towers, Abreeza Place Davao, Avida Towers, rising within the business district of Davao. Other condominium projects are already underway.


Meanwhile, the city still has an estimated 59,000 housing backlog for informal settlers.

Urban poor families are also threatened with demolitions and dislocation from their livelihood, with the rapid development of Davao City.

Some local fisherfolks lamented as their houses were identified to be demolished to pave way for the 35-kilometer Davao Coastal Road project that will stretch from Bago Aplaya to Sta-Ana wharf. The project costing P19 billion is expected to be completed by 2021.

Developers already plan to develop some areas of the project into a lifestyle hub, but the residents are asking the government to allow them to rebuild their houses near the sea to continue with their sole means of livelihood.

Other urban poor areas in the city were also threatened of demolition as it is eyed for business establishments.

Meanwhile, the local government is pushing for the modernization of public mass transport, with proposed projects like the Mindanao Railway Project, Davao Monorail project, and the High Priority Bus System (HPBS), on track.

The HPBS, targeted to start its initial implementation in 2019, is seen to address the traffic woes in the city, by phasing out public utility jeepneys (PUJs) and changing it into a bus system.

The HPBS would create 10,000 jobs, but also would displace around 14 thousand drivers and operators. Mayor Duterte-Carpio said that they are still finalizing the assistance packages for those affected by the project.

For the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno(KMU), the supposed “bullish economy” was never felt by poor households.
“Maybe its true there’s growth, but only for those big capitalists,” Romelito Pablo, spokesperson of KMU-Southern Mindanao Region.

Pablo said that the year 2018 has been even harsher for ordinary Filipinos with government policies implemented that only led to a further crisis.

Pablo said that poor families felt the brunt of TRAIN Law with the high inflation rate for months—reaching to 9-year high of 6.7 percent in October, resulting in the high price of basic commodities.

In 2019, TRAIN 2 is set to be implemented with a higher oil excise tax.

Pablo added that millions of Filipinos are still unemployed, underemployed and trying to live off low and precarious incomes, as there are no decent jobs created.

“The government even failed to entirely stop contractualization in the country,” Pablo said.

For KMU, progress should not only be based on several infrastructures rising, but mainly on the living condition of ordinary people.

Indeed, Davao City is among the richest cities in the country. However, its poor residents are still wallowing in the deepening poverty in the country.(davaotoday.com)

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