We will not break: Sara

We will not break. 

These were the encouraging words of Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in her 25-minute recorded 2020 State of the City Address (SOCA) on Monday.

“Covid-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future. We should expect that it would be a difficult stretch. I will forever be between a rock and a hard place amidst this pandemic. The rock that exemplifies all the people trying to save the lives of our fellowmen from dying of Covid-19 complications and the hard place that is representative of the people trying to save their families from going flat broke. And we, Dabawenyos, we will not break! The deaths, the pain, the debts, and the frustration are sent our way to change us into Dabawenyos who look at dark clouds and see it as the silver lining,” Mayor Sara said. 

She said 10 months since the declaration of the pandemic, Davao City remains trapped in a very peculiar reality just like the rest of the world. 
“And we should all manage our expectations because this pandemic will define how we will live our lives for another two years. Maybe more,” she said.   

She said that in 10 months, Dabawenyos have seen an alarming spike in the number of confirmed Covid-19 positive cases. While waiting for a vaccine to control the spread, the mayor implemented protocols such as staying at home, wearing a mask, frequent handwashing, and observing social/physical distancing to reduce risk of transmission.  

“This is not only a public health emergency, but also an economic and social crisis. And we are endlessly, trying out the best strategic, seamless connection between the stages under our Plan of Action against Covid-19 — prevention, testing, contact tracing, and isolation, quarantine, and treatment,” she said. 

She also shared the highlights of the city’s Covid-19 response: the city’s testing capacity currently at approximately 1,200 tests per day; support for the establishment of two private laboratories and the completion of Los Amigos Davao Laboratory funded from the Bayanihan Heal as One Act.

“The contact tracing has been particularly challenging. Recently, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) augmented 1,500 personnel to assist in the city’s contact-tracing efforts … We also envision to use technology to support the team. We endeavor to catch many of the contacts of a confirmed positive case with the use of the Safe Davao QR,” she said. 

Mayor Sara also recalled her preparation in case of emergencies as a local chief executive: “When I started my fresh term as Mayor in July 2019, I mentally prepared myself for the emergencies and disasters. No term of mine was ever uneventful and I did not expect the current one to be smooth sailing but my wildest dreams never considered a pandemic. As Chief Executive, I have weathered numerous storms but what completely floored me was that I did not see an end to this one.”
Other salient points of the SOCA are:

-On infrastructure projects: “When this pandemic is over, I invite everyone to ride through the scenic areas of Paquibato and Calinan especially the parts which were made through the Roads and Bridges to Peace project implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) aiming to open more economic activities and address the peace and order issues in these areas. During your evening ride, I also invite everyone to look up to our sodium to LED bulbs transition for streetlights which have greatly improved visibility and security on the roads,” she said. 

-On drugs and terrorism: “Drugs and terrorism remain to be on top of our focus areas on criminality and we are underscoring the adoption of the Culture of Security. One component that we are trying to cascade down to the household level is the “Kapag May Nakita, Dapat Magsalita” component of the culture. We need our residents to report all suspicious persons and activities for security action,” she said. 

-As of date, the city has 15 Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities (TTMFs) with a capacity of 1,171 bed spaces for various types of individuals from confirmed positive, suspects, contacts and post-swab individuals. 
-The city has also established 601 bed spaces across four facilities supporting the “Test and Wait” initiative for arriving passengers at the Davao International Airport (DIA).

-For treatment, initially, the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) is the sole hospital to treat Covid-19 patients. 

-For cremation, the Bayanihan Law funded the development of the Wireless Public Cemetery Crematorium, which shall accommodate all Covid-related deaths. 

-On top of these responses, social welfare programs were also initiated by the city government in support to the daily wage earners and people working in the informal sector who faced loss of jobs, income, and food security.

-Food Relief Response remains to be the top priority since March and the city government of Davao has distributed 1,305,454 grocery packs to 448,312 households in all 182 barangays of the city during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) period. A total of 70, 994 food packs were also given to workers of establishments and sectors who remain to be affected by the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).

-There’s also the Work for Davao Cash for Work initiative has provided cash assistance to at least 20,180 Dabawenyos who lost their jobs amidst this pandemic.  

-Along with this, the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) of the Department of Labor and Employment has also helped jeepney drivers whose incomes have been greatly reduced because of the distancing requirements in public transportation. 

-The Eskwela Davao, an educational assistance grant for children of families who lost their source of income or have reduced income due to the pandemic, has helped 22,000 students of which 4,500 are Junior High School; 4,500 are Senior High School; 10,000 are elementary; and, 3,000 are kindergarten. The beneficiaries are set to receive cash assistance ranging from P1,000 to P3,000 each.

-Two private donors also generously supported the families with three or more learners with 300 laptops under the Student Siblings Laptop Sharing Project and 100 tablets for the Students Siblings Tablet Sharing Project to help them with their online school work.

-The mayor also reported the projects she hopes to finish during the end of her term in June 2022. These projects are the High Priority Bus System (HPBS) project, Waste to Energy Project, and the Interim Bus System, which is suffering setbacks because of the fear of investors in not being able to deliver the contract on time due to the Covid-19 global economic loss. 

-The city government of Davao is working together with local consultants in figuring out how to layout the bus and bike lanes on the city’s roads. She said the city has already sent out letters for the possible collaboration with private landowners for bus terminals and depots in Toril, Lasang-Bunawan and Calinan areas. -Mayor Sara said the city is continuously monitoring the Davao City Bypass Project, the Davao-Samal Bridge, and the Davao City Coastal Road Project. 

-The recently created Davao River and Coastal Road Monitoring Team has helped with the voluntary removal by owners of numerous makeshift houses along and atop river dikes, which are considered as danger zones.

-Magsaysay Park and Sta. Ana Port development efforts are also on hold while awaiting completion of the coastal road to ensure that any investment in these properties are not rendered useless by a possible redesign due to the coastal road.

-The city has completed two new parks – the Candelaria Park and the McArthur Highway Park, and is now in the bidding for a park along the Dona Vicenta subdivision area. 

-The city will start the Phase 1 of the development of the Roxas Avenue Park funded by DBM.

-The mayor also reported that the security status of the city has remained to be on high alert since 2016 and this year, a 53 percent decrease in index crimes was recorded as it dropped from 658 to 306 in the previous year.

-The non-index crimes, on the other hand, increased to 74 percent, from 2887 to 4189 crimes, due to the increased apprehensions on the violation of Covid-19 health protocols. 

-Peace 911 continues to work in establishing lasting peace commitments from the residents in the area of Paquibato. Along with this, the city is also working on the establishment of the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) Extension Campus and a Police Station in Barangay Malabog, and a District Hall and City Mayor’s Extension Office in Barangay Paquibato Proper.

-She said the donated houses built on the Los Amigos Relocation Site are almost fully occupied and the private companies complying with their housing regulation mandate have recently finished the site development of the Lasang Relocation Area and she hopes to see the National Housing Authority (NHA) to build these homes soon.

-The City Economic Enterprise Office has funds for the purchase of property for the establishment of cemeteries in both the North and South side of the City. The development of the Tagakpan Cemetery and the repair of Toril, Mintal, and Bankerohan Public Markets, and the completion of Agdao Public Market are all underway.

-It is also the long-term plan of the city to improve on the local government center in San Pedro St. and expand the open spaces in Rizal Park and create an underground parking.

-The City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) has its own 4-storey building and the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) building is currently under construction; adjacent to it is also the construction of the City Health Office (CHO) building.

-Within the People’s Park compound, the newly built Tourism and DCIPC building is ready for occupancy, the Museo Dabawenyo is undergoing construction and the MICE building will soon follow. 

-Other infrastructure projects that will start soon are the Halfway House for the Mentally Unwell Vagrants and the Davao City Special Needs Intervention Center.  The disaster office is busy completing the evacuation center in Brgy. Mahayag and finalizing requirements for other possible sites.

-The mayor also mentioned the three projects which are equally important but has been pushed back beyond her term for various reasons, the least priority of which is the expansion of the City Hall Building, which is moved to no definite date.

-The City College of Davao which was targeted to open August this year is moved to June 2023.

-The third is the Davao City Hospital in partnership with the University of the Philippines Mindanao, which will probably materialize in 2024.