Sincerity of Davao Candidates on Environment Questioned

May. 04, 2007

DAVAO CITY — The question on the local politicians sincerity on environmental concern was again raised by the residents of the second district who attended the Green Vote 2007 candidates forum Friday, the last of the series of forums where local candidates were asked to lay-down their environmental agenda.

Ironically, two recipients of the infamous Kalabasa Awards, Councilors Danilo Dayanghirang and Diosdado Mahipus, signed the Green Vote covenant, agreeing to prioritize the agenda should they be put to office again.

Both Dayanghirang and Mahipus proclaimed themselves as environmentalists, something that the public doubted knowing how the two councilors became very vocal about their bias for business more than the environment.

We are doubtful and at the same time dismayed over what we heard from them. They claim to being friends of the environment and the people when we know for a fact that they have been consistently blocking efforts to protect the environment as they protect the interest of the business sector, said John Tagab of barangay Tigatto.

During his speech, Mahipus said he has always been one of those who were in the frontline of protecting the environment.

Many times I have been criticized for my position on certain issues about environmental protection. I was the one who first stood against businesses who planned to establish in the aquifer, Mahipus said.

Mahipus also admitted that he has always thought about a solution to the controversial aerial spraying ordinance other than stopping the practice.

But because I am a supporter of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, I am also for the banningI supported the ban. I will abide by the decision of Duterte because I am an advocate of democracy, Mahipus said.

For this, Mahipus was called a Duterte lapdog.

Doesnt he have his own decision? Good that we have a mayor like Duterte whose concern for the people is unquestionable. But what if Duterte is someone who doesnt have a heart for us and who doesnt care for the environment? a mother from barangay Agdao said.

Dayanghirang, on the other hand, said he has already read the 20-point agenda well and that he is agreeable to everything stated there including the implementation of the ordinance banning aerial spraying and the support for the expansion of diversified farms and not monoculture farms. Dayanghirang is also known for working as consultant to a banana company.

Cathy Gordo, coordinator of the Hugpong Dabaw, a network of social housing nongovernment organization and peoples organizations, said the statements of some of those who attended the forum were not believable.

Some of them did not mean what they say. They were talking like real trapo (traditional politicians), as if they can fool the people into believing that they are good leaders, Gordo said.

Bill Martin, president of Davao Federation of Subdivisions and Homeowners Association, Inc., said he was dissatisfied with what he has heard from the candidates.

I would rather cast my votes to the neophytes than waste it to the trapo, Martin said.

The other candidates who attended the last forum were councilors Arnulfo Cabling, Nenen Orcullo and neophyte candidates Mikee Aportadera and Doming Lopez.

Organizers of the event, however, said that it was still good that the candidates attended the forum and signed the covenant. They said that they are looking forward to their full support for the implementation of the environmental agenda.

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