By Jade C. Zaldivar
The Davao City Council in last Tuesday’s session imposed a moratorium on memorial park applications following a majority decision junking two pending applications for the same.
Majority council members rejected the applications of Eternal Garden Memorial Park and Fairfield Memorial Park, both of which applied to locate within the city’s Dumoy watershed area.
Councilor Bernard Al-ag, council health committee, was prompted to propose the moratorium after 17 councilors voted “no,” only two voted “yes,” and two others abstained on the application of Fairfield.
On the other, 15 councilors thumbed down the application of Eternal Garden, while only four voted “yes,” while two others abstained.
The moratorium will stay, according to Al-ag, until the Watershed Management and Protection Council headed by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is done with the watershed delineation project which will specifically identify where the city’s watershed areas are located.
The moratorium will likewise affect the application of Forest Lake, the third memorial which applied in the Ulas area.
The establishment of memorial parks above the Dumoy aquifer and its surrounding areas is strongly opposed by the barangay government of Dumoy headed by barangay captain Jesse Mar Culaste, the United Residents of Dacoville led by engineer Conrado Vidanes and other individuals and groups, including members of the Davao Watershed Management Council. Part of the oppositors are siblings of businessman Francis Ledesma, owner of Fairfield memorial park.
Councilors Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling and Marissa Salvador-Abella who are leaders and spokespersons of the watershed management council vowed to move for the amendment of the Water Code to include Dumoy aquifer as major water resource where projects like memorial parks are prohibited.
The watershed delineation project was started last June 5 as directed by Mayor Duterte-Carpio.
Ricardo Jimenez Jr., retired broadcast executive and secretary of the Dacoville residents group, thanked the members of the city council for showing concern for the preservation of the Dumoy, undeniably the city’s biggest source of potable water.
He said the councilors’ action can also be credited to the vigilance shown by the oppositors.
“My goal for the declaration of the moratorium is to give time to the watershed management council to submit to the City Council the detailed and updated map of the city’s water resources,” Al-ag told Edge Davao.
Al-ag said that with such information, the City Council would be better equipped to decide on applications for memorial parks.
“I will wait for the water(shed) management council to interpret Article 6 of the city’s Water Code and to clearly delineate the water resource areas,” Al-ag added.
The city’s Water Resources Management and Protection Code 2001 disallows new memorial parks and cemeteries to rise in water-rich areas.
Article 6 of the code only declares areas as principal water sources of Davao City: a) Calinan to Dacudao, b) Calinan to Malagos, and c) Sirawan.
However, the code does not name the areas of Dumoy, Baliok, Bago, Puan and Ulas which are known water resource areas from which the Davao City Water District operates 39 of the 54 deepwells.
During a council deliberation the ‘missing’ provision of the code’s Article 6 was raised.
The council resolved that the Water Code needs to be amended, but before this the city should first define its watershed areas.