BEHIND THE LINES: Waterless PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 April 2014 11:12

BY BOB JALDON

 

Darn it! Why do the rich and powerful adamantly refuse to listen to poor people like me? Thirty four years ago when Zamboanga was fast growing into a metropolis as population was rising, buildings sprouting like mushrooms and squatter colonies multiplying like mosquitoes, I raised the alarm on having a water-less city during the summer months. Global warming wasn’t even the topic in coffee shops and newsrooms. Teodoro Araneta (if you don’t know him, then you’re not from Zamboanga) managed to squeeze the necks of some city councilors who then consented to give away part of Pasonanca Park to the Zamboanga City Water District (ZCWD) for a song for the construction of a water treatment plant. National parks, as all lawyers know, are beyond the commerce of 0men. Only a single soul in the city council questioned it — Abelardo “Tonggo” Climaco, Jr. His protestations never reached the courts. So, it went that the great Cesar C. Climaco permitted the use of a portion of Pasonanca Park because he knew that water is essential to humans, plants and animals. “Doring” would have gone on to build a water-holding dam in the forests of Pasonanca. He passed away before a deal could be reached with the IMF.

Many summers have passed. Many times since the passing of many summers has the water district raised the alarm of a water shortage because of the “El Nino” phenomenon. Many times have we, the consumers, been asked to conserve water, “por agua es vida.” Well, we need not conserve water because there is nothing to conserve. Our population has astronomically grown, either through natural birth or urban migration. Media crusaded for the construction of a water holding dam to no avail. We are now suffering from the consequences of lack of foresight by our past and present leaders. CCC saw it all. He was a visionary. Soon, we shall be eating dust instead of drinking water, he said.

Sanamagan, Pancho. Why are our leaders, sworn to serve us, the underlings, so naive so as not to see what’s best for our future? We have lost our flowers (to Latinos, hehe) and our grace and serenity to gunslingers and marauders. Soon, our breed shall evaporate because of a lot that has vowed to populate and, eventually dominate.

Water should be the concern of everyone. We lose it, we die. Leonardo “Chito” Vasquez can establish his mark as the best water district general manager ever if only he pays close attention to doing his job rather than keeping it. He has all the studies and figures on how to go about securing financing for the construction of a small water holding dam. “Si agua es vida, cosa el vida sin agua?”

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Thirty four years ago also, CCC and then DOTC Secretary Jose P. Dans met in the former’s house in  Sta. Maria. Dans laid out the plans for the transfer of the present airport either to Masinloc Pt. or Mercedes. But tragic events overtook the plans: CCC was assassinated and Marcos was deposed. We would have been the premier city in the Visayas and Mindanao in the late ’80s. No one since CCC’s incumbency dared to do it. Can you imagine having a Global City-like place where the airport now exists? That huge tract of land is our only change - ONLY CHANCE - of rising above all other cities in Mindanao. Our leaders were so much focused on pouring taxpayers’ money on projects that had no direct economic impact on our future.

Madam Beng Climaco, I would have brought these twin issues to you when we met by chance at the wake of Rustico M. Varela, Jr. But that wasn’t the time. You see, m’am, the airport project has been sleeping at the DOTC for years. All it needs is a little push by you and get the papers to Malacanang so that upon the president’s orders, the project could be undertaken through PPP. Is that difficult to do? Just do it!