By Cha Monforte
What’s there for a bridge? Samal Island despite that it has been underdeveloped frontier through the decades, many visitors and tourists come flocking in droves because of its fresh and unpolluted beaches. It’s a weekend hideaway despite the frequent power outages of the divided Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative.
There are two contentions whether there’s a need to have the Samal Bridge or not. One wants it, and the other just wants Samal Island retained as just an island without a bridge.
The island-forever contention asserts on the need to live in a garden city island that has bountiful eco-tourism destinations, fresh and unspoiled beach resorts – “under an urban setting” as a later appendage. Island Councilor Alberto Ortiz forewarned if there would be a bridge, squatters and more settlers will swamp down in the island, and the consequent high demand for housing, their wastes and the feeding of an increased population would pose big problems. For sure, I know, the unspoiled will be spoiled. That’s being environmentalist.
But then there’s also this pleasure of riding a ferry or barge, having an exciting experience of crossing a sea in a shortest time. That’s because, Davao City is just a stone’s throw away from the island, proverbially speaking. It’s quite a valid reason and it’s awesome to be leisurely sometimes especially for those tourists from land-locked provinces. Candidly, this is the specific reason that I, for now, like Samal Island without a bridge.
But people’s leisurely wishes can be frustrated by policy decisions of government. That’s if our government has billions and political will this time. Well, the Advisory Committee (AdCom) of the Regional Development Council (RDC) –XI last April 15 included the Samal Bridge as one of regional development priorities for 2015. Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario moved for a full blown feasibility study (FS) and detailed engineering as first phase in the implementation of the Samal Bridge project.
The Samal Bridge proposal has been there since then; we don’t know when it started. Formally, in 2002 a pre-feasibility analysis on it was incorporated in the Davao Integrated Development Program (DIDP) Master Plan. But in our country, a master plan is often a guide forgotten if not a thing deviated from during implementation.
In the case of the Samal Bridge, it’s often one wishful thinking as where will we get the P6 billion to construct a costly bridge that’s just about 1.2 kilometers in length. We’re no advanced countries that had their famous bridges constructed way long back in the 19th and 20th centuries out from capitalist coffers. What was ex-President GMA did say in 2007? “In the next 20 years we will become a First World country.” Her mea culpa yet.
The yes contention can be better appreciated in the governor’s foreseeing of a rapid development and investors coming in the island once there would be bridge. He has been pushing for a circumferential road around the island to prepare for it. After his SOPA (State of the Province Address) two weeks ago, Gov. Del Rosario said that Samal’s Babak District is an ideal place to put an international airport to connect with Davao City through the bridge. Babak can have light manufacturing industries, while Penaplata District would be the seat of government, and Kaputian District would be for eco-tourism.
“If I were a mayor, I’ll donate Talikud Island to Davao City.” He actually meant that the city halls of the island and Davao City could make a sort of sisterhood arrangement to develop Talikud Island. “Talikud is facing the Sta. Ana wharf, which the Davao City government could develop with tourist hotels and port facilities,” the governor added.
For all of his advocacies, these thoughts should all the more be pursued: the master plan can be better vindicated of its name if leaders and implementors love its rationale and know its details. The master thoughts of the seasoned and tested governor-manager can only be realized if he wrests the island’s governance itself. Then he has to run for mayor by 2016 with that platform. His winning is a ratification of the Samal people- that they, too, want the bridge. (follow @chamonforte, @ruralurbanews)
column to various newspapers (in Mindanao, natl)
posted april 18, 2014