DAVAO CITY, Philippines – This year marked a glorious year for Davao City as it bagged different national and international awards.

The city’s efforts in terms of tourism, environment and peace and order were once again commended and recognized, proving that aside from being the President’s hometown, it’s a city where both residents and tourists can be proud of.

However, the awards came with a challenge to do better in providing services, and to come up with stricter implementation of policies and more programs.

Duterte’s hometown also faced a series of unfortunate events at the end of the year. Families were displaced. Dozens of lives were lost.

And much to the surprise of his colleagues, one of the city’s leaders, announced he’ll no longer serve as vice mayor.

ASEAN Clean tourist city

For compliance to the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Clean Tourist City Standards (ACTCS), Davao City is set to receive the first ASEAN Clean Tourist City Award on the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Chiang Mai, Thailand on January 26, 2018.

The ACTCS focused on tourist cities where flow of visitors and cultural, natural and/or man-made attractions exist. It evaluated indicators including environmental management, cleanliness, waste management, awareness-building about environmental protection and cleanliness, green spaces, health safety and urban safety and security, and tourism infrastructure and facilities.

City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio thanked the employees of the city government and Dabawenyos who showed support and made the achievement possible. For City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) head Generose Tecson, the feat brings great honor and pride to the city and is an affirmation to its tagline “Life is Here.”

Meanwhile, Chinkie Golle, executive director of the Interface Development Interventions who took part in the initial assessment, said the overall evaluation of the city’s tourism destinations was positive and efforts to ensure the destinations are “well-maintained.”

However, Golle believes that the award comes with a challenge to improve its waste management system.

The city got the award despite the liquid waste spill in a sanitary landfill in Tugbok district. The Environmental Management Bureau 11 (EMB-11) in November confirmed that the “leachate” has contaminated a portion of Matina Pangi river, posing a great danger to the residents and the environment.

EMB said the spillage of leachate was caused by the overflowing waste in the waste water treatment facility due to the huge volume of waste and the clogged up drainage lines.

Golle cited that the “increase in the volume of tourists will also result to an increase on the volume of waste the city will produce.”

The City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) on one hand vowed to address the issue by improving its facility and operations in the landfill.

The City Council has also allotted P42 million for the rehabilitation of the existing sanitary landfill, while another P100 million will be used to construct a new landfill facility.

Most child-friendly city

The city has become a “hall of famer” in the prestigious Presidential award for having won the title of Most Child-Friendly for Highly Urbanized Cities.

This is the sixth time for the city to win the title as it received the same award on the years, 1998, 1999, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

According to the Council for the Welfare of Children, “the Presidential Award is conferred to deserving local government units in recognition of their vital role in the sustained promotion of children’s rights to survival, development, protection and participation as well as in ensuring child-friendly governance.”

This is also aimed to “institutionalize and sustain a child-friendly environment and governance by promoting and protecting children’s right to survival, development, protection and participation.”

The city has its various center-based programs to cater the needs of children in the city, this includes:

  • Davao City Children’s Village (Bahay Pag-asa)- a temporary shelter for Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL),

  • Balay Dangupan – a shelter care institution for physically and sexually abused children

  • Paginhawaan Drop-in Center for Children (PDICC) – a drop-in center for street children or boys needing temporary shelter and other immediate social service

  • Sidlakan Women Crisis Center, a 24-hour crisis intervention center for women and their children who are victims of domestic violence

  • Quick Response Team for Children’s Concern (QRTCC)- designed to rescue, investigate and document cases of sexual, exploitation, and atrocities committed against children

Under QRTCC, is one of the city’s initiatives to address child abuse -the creation of the Kean Gabriel Hotline, a 24/7help line intended to cater child abuse reports. It was named after Kean Gabriel Agustin, a three-year-old boy who died after he was allegedly maltreated by his stepfather in August 24, 2016.

Since the launching of the hotline last year, the Quick Response Team for Children Center of the City Social Services and Development Office (QRTCC-CSSDO) recorded 340 cases of abuses, and two deaths from October last year until September this year.

In a previous interview, CSSDO head Maria Luisa Bermudo said she is optimistic that the city will once again bag the award with its numerous projects and vowed to strengthen the existing programs and partnership with other sectors to ensure that children’s rights are protected.

More work needed

For Jeanette Laurel Ampog, executive director of Talikala Inc., there’s still a lot to be done.

“At first glance we are happy because of course this is an honor for the city. But on the other hand, on a deeper sense, we are worried because there are still a lot of issues that the children in the city is facing,” Ampog told Davao Today in an interview.

She noted of the reported cases of child prostitution, child trafficking, the presence of child labor and both the government and non-government organization’s “limitation” in terms of responding to the needs of children.

In October, Police Senior Superintendent Alexander Tagum director of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) said authorities are alarmed over the increasing number of rape incidents victimizing children.

Ampog also said cases of the new form of form of trafficking called “online sexual exploitation on children” have also been recorded in the city.

Ampog said she is hopeful that there will be more programs from both the public and private groups, more avenues for children to take part and voice out their concerns and strict implementation of Children’s Code and strength anti-trafficking ordinance.

“I hope that the award will make the government work hard and look for creative solutions and appropriate services that will respond to what really are the needs of children,” Ampog said.

At the end of 2017, the city faced a series of unfortunate events.

The fire that tore down NCCC Mall took 38 lives. A day before the incident, thousands of families were displaced as tropical storm Vinta (international name: Tembin) made landfall in Mindanao.

Mayor Duterte-Carpio called off festivities, saying “this is not the time to celebrate.” This, as her brother, Paolo Duterte, also resigned as vice mayor of Davao City on Christmas Day.

2017 was a year of feats and defeats for Davao City. As it welcomes another year, how will our leaders rise up to the challenges still remains a question. (davaotoday.com)

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