An inappropriate proposed ordinance PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 19 September 2018 12:42

LOOKING IN

BY ROD BALBON

After listening to the many negative comments of businessmen with regard to the many unnecessary, irrational, and duplicating requirements in putting up new business in the country, the Duterte administration has instructed all local government units to coordinate closely with proper government agencies in formulating laws, rules and guidelines, to eliminate “red tapes” to encourage and make it easy for businessmen, both local and foreign, to invest and establish their business in their respective areas.

But it seems our local City Council has never heard about the term “ease in putting up a business.” Instead of eliminating the tedious and exasperating process, it has come up with a proposed ordinance that runs contrary to this presidential instruction and makes it harder for a businesswoman to put up a new business.

A proposed ordinance was presented in the City Council that requires the issuance of “certificate of social acceptability” from this august body as a prerequisite for the application of building permit/mayor’s permit for environmentally critical businesses, projects or activities in the City of Zamboanga.

Damn it, I thought the City Council is a legislative body and not a regulatory body.

The proposed ordinance, which is coated with a worthy concern and objective is “intended to maintain a well-balanced ecosystem that is conducive for economically prosperous locality, under a healthy living condition of its constituents”. Thus, in the pursuit of this noble purpose, the City Council has arrogated unto itself the exclusive power to determine whether the proposed business operation, activity, or project are environmentally critical or endangers the environment and the people.

The problem with this pathetic proposed ordinance is: the City Councilors have no vast knowledge and training nor qualified to determine and resolve the social acceptability of the business or project such as the putting up of ice plants, gasoline stations, sanitary landfill, quarrying, aquaculture, poultry farming (in excess of 1,000 heads), piggery farming (in excess of 50 heads), livestock (20 heads goats), power plants and the all-encompassing and broad power: ALL other business projects and activities which the City Council may determine.

This is now another additional layer/requirement aside from the required barangay resolution, stating therewith that the Barangay Council has no objection to the business or project and that they are socially acceptable to the people of the locality; certification from the City Health Officer that the project is a non-health hazard project; certification from the City Planning and Development Office that the business or project is not in violation of the Local Zoning Ordinance; and other entities and department office that may be required accordingly like the environmental department of the DENR.

Are these not enough? Why will the City Council poke its finger into this matter that is already performed by the above-named agencies?

This proposed ordinance which is just merely copied from the ordinance passed by the City of Cadiz in Negros Occidental is plainly an additional red tape and a possible source of corruption.

I can recall many years ago when my friends were shaked-off by the council when they were applying for a foreshore lease. Then there was grease money given by a wood processor, who illegally cut logs in the West Coast, to stop the council’s investigation on the illegal cutting of trees in the West Coast. I distributed the money. Now what more for this new power to be bestowed upon the City Council?

Do you know the reason why no tall buildings are erected in Zamboanga City? It’s because of an ordinance that was legislated many years ago and has never been repealed up to now, that prohibits the construction of more than eight-storey edifices. With this ordinance, the councilors went beyond their qualifications and expertise and for a while pretended to be aeronautic safety experts and engineers by declaring that tall buildings are impediments and hazards to aerial navigation.

Now, the City Council will be empowering itself to determine and decide whether one’s business is “socially acceptable” before it will be allowed to do business in our city.

This proposed ordinance is a “red flag” and will not in any way attract the establishment of new business in the city. Or does the City Council now want to put up a new business—monkey business?