DAVAO CITY, Philippines – “Don’t blame poor Filipinos for what’s wrong with the weather,” Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said as he lashed at critics who blamed illegal logging for the worst flooding that inundated some areas in Davao in water for the whole week.
“Every time there’s something wrong with the weather, you start to crucify the Filipinos, when we don’t have a significant contribution to what ails the weather. We contribute the least to global warming, blame the Western world, blame the US and China,” Duterte said, reacting to the crawler on a cable news network (ANC), which quoted environment groups as saying the “denudation of Mt. Apo contributed much to the recent flooding in Davao City.
Duterte, in his Sunday television program, said the volcanic peak of Mt. Apo had no trees in the first place. Mt. Apo had nothing to do with the recent flooding, he said.
Duterte said 89 million cubic meters of rainfall, an equivalent to a one-year production of drinking water of the Davao City Water District in the city, poured in the city in two days, causing the floods.
“We never contributed significantly as to alter the temperature of the planet, it was the Western World,” Duterte said.
“The rivers and tributaries overflowed,” Duterte said, adding that the flood came from the Lipadas and Davao watershed.
He said even if it was illegal logging, it was not the Filipinos who denuded large forest areas in Mindanao, citing South Cotabato, which was a virgin forest before American companies started logging operations that cleared away entire forests.
“Who were the first loggers in Mindanao? Those were Americans,” Duterte said. “Where are our trees? Of course, there were Filipinos, but at that time, it was considered legitimate.”
Duterte asked critics to look at the bigger picture, instead of automatically castigating poor Filipinos for what’s ailing the environment.
“The bigger picture is it was not us who destroyed the environment, we have the least of the contribution to climate change,” he said. “What caused the severe wind, velocity 200 kilometers per hour? It’s the climate. What’s the effect? Everything. Everyone had his share (of disasters) including New York,” he said.
“Do not believe these foreigners coming from the US and Europe to lecture on us about issues,” Duterte said.
But he defended those who developed housing subdivisions even in areas considered now as flood-prone and a catch basin for water. He said that the developers have been granted permit by the Housing Land Use and Regulatory Board (HLURB) in the first place, hence, did not have any choice but to develop the properties.
“Jade Valley (subdivision) was built what used to be a riverbed, so when the river overflowed, expect the water to get inside your house,” Duterte said.
Residents in flood-prone housing subdivisions, such as the Jade Valley Subdivision, had asked the vice mayor to intervene, hoping to put a stop to the payment of their housing mortgages within the subdivision, which developers carved out of the dried up riverbed and proved to be prone to flooding.