Rama: We cannot just see a bridge

·3 min read

If you look at a map, you will realize that 16 Cebu City barangays hug the coastline.

By district, these are Inyawan, Cogon Pardo, Kinasang-an Pardo, Basak Pardo, Basak San Nicolas, Mambaling, Duljo, Sawang Calero, Suba and Pasil in the south, and Ermita, San Roque, Tingo, Tejero, Carreta and Mabolo in the north.

These barangays, with the exception of Kinasang-an and the inclusion of Sto. Niño, are actually recognized by local law — City Ordinance 1988 (plus two amendatory measures, City Ordinances 1995 and 2037) — as coastal barangays. More on this in a bit.

Anyone with a working familiarity of Cebu City will know that the areas mentioned represent a zone where much wealth is generated.

The Cebu International Port and the local Port of Cebu, where millions in trade flow on a daily basis, that portion of the North Reclamation Area that belongs to Cebu City and is the site of many hotels and commercial establishments, straddle Mabolo, Carreta, Tinago and San Roque.

Meanwhile, the whole of the South Road Properties, the site of the country’s fourth biggest mall, and the future site of a 30-hectare mixed-use SM-Ayala joint venture, spans Mambaling, Basak San Nicolas, Basak Pardo, Kinasang-an Pardo, Cogon Pardo and Inayawan.

Unfortunately, the coastal barangays also host some of the city’s most impoverished, crime-riddled and drug-infested communities.

In fact, the three ordinances I mentioned earlier — City Ordinance 1988, City Ordinance 1995 and City Ordinance 2037 — were all enacted to attempt to address the problem of poverty, solid waste, crime and drugs, by creating the Coastline Management Board, which the mayor heads.

The board includes all 16 coastal barangay chiefs, seven department heads including Cosap, five national agencies including Dole, two police units including PDEA, two non-government organizations, and one academic institution.

If we gauge the size and scale of the mechanism for intervention, we can extrapolate the depth and the extent of the situation the mechanism seeks to resolve. And it is sizable.

A mere speck of that entered our public’s consciousness last week, thanks to a Rappler photo that ran on the same day President Duterte opened the uber expensive Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway or CCLEX.

The shot was taken in Sitio Bato, Barangay Ermita (or was it Pasil?) and it frames the iconic new bridge in a way that it hovers above shanties built very near to and on top of a seawall.

The presentation of two contrasting images in one frame got people talking, which from media’s perspective, is well and good.

Journalism’s task, after all, is to give people an orientation of what is happening around them so that they may be moved and equipped to participate in discourse and to form an informed opinion as to how they want to be governed and the direction governance should take.

In a perfect world though, the conversation would be constructive and directed towards problem-solving, instead of presenting its own contrast — people in Cebu City who want to be informed about the problem and how to solve it, versus the people in Cebu City who want to be affirmed that they live in a place already developed, urban and modern.

But this is not a perfect world and the situation, to borrow a term in journalism, is still “developing.” So, who knows how the conversation eventually evolves?

One thing is for sure: We cannot just see a bridge.

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