Freeze the build
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - August 28, 2019 - 12:00am

How so easily we forget. It was not so long ago when thousands of families in Metro Manila experienced a serious water shortage that led to water rationing that made us all realize that water is not an infinite source. In fact things got so bad that we all relearned those water conservation methods we picked up from school and the internet. I even found out from a friend that Manila Water suspended all new water connections because the water shortage revealed that they have more customers than they could supply.

But we easily forget and it was just a matter of time before people and the water companies start behaving like everything is back to normal because the rainy season has started to fill the dams. Last Sunday I immediately noticed that water pressure in our area in Barrio Kapitolyo, Pasig was stronger than at any other time. In fact the strength was comparable to the times I had my water pump and pressure tank on. Under “normal circumstance” I would cheer but this is the very thing I was worried about; we have no control over the weather or how much rain pours onto our dams and for how long. The philosophy of conservation is to save in times of plenty and conserve in times of scarcity.

Another thing I worry about is the supply and demand problem of the two water concessionaires. Within a one kilometer radius of Barrio Kapitolyo so many condominium projects and townhouses have gone up in the last 12 months. I’m guessing that the current supply of condo and townhouse units will easily double or triple the current population of the area. That will place a serious demand or pressure on the available water resource, power as well as garbage collection and dump site. I admire and respect the decision of the water concessionaires to freeze all new connections during the drought, but what about now and in the months to come?

I have the impression that this crucial factors are not really going into the decision of local governments when they issue building permits etc. Just because projects have permits to construct and occupy, it does not follow that they will have the water, electricity, finances or land to dump garbage generated by hundreds and thousands of condominium unit owners. While condos may have their built-in parking slots, the same cannot be said for townhouses that often only have one car garage that is usually converted into a laundry area or outside living space. Several speculators have been buying up private homes and building commercial buildings or townhouses around Barrio Kapitolyo but very few have sufficient parking space so these spill over into our streets.

I have no doubt that the lobbying abilities and clout of property developers are so strong that there will be a push back to proposals to FREEZE THE BUILD and chances are our legislators and the governments both national and local will avoid that possibility, so at the very least there should be a rule, law or system where no new construction or development will be allowed unless there are guarantees that the water, power and waste management can be supplied or serviced or that the developers have a DENR approved answer to the problem. If there is a proposed law called No Garage – No New Car, then we must have the guarantee that the scarce resource we now enjoy won’t be further reduced because of unregulated residential developments.

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The DOF or Department of Finance is pushing for an increase in the Road Users Tax that is so high it will force many people to get rid of their cars after the three years staggered increases. The over spending Duterte Administration is clearly running short on cash flow but is so image conscious that they would rather tax ordinary Filipinos to death than borrow money from international banking institutions. If Sonny Dominguez wants to collect taxes, then he should be considerate enough to tax those who are actually making so much money that they brag about their profits every quarter and at year-end. Slap additional taxes on the great big corporations who flaunt their month to month or year to year increase in profits. Impose a tax on people and corporations who own or buy multiple condominium units and townhouses because they clearly can afford them and are buying them for investment purposes.

In an effort to appease the public, the DOF reportedly announced that they will exempt tricycles from the three-year Road Users Tax increase. That as my grandfather Enrique Salcedo would say is consuelo de bobo para la camote! The global truth is that there is a great imbalance in the distribution of wealth and the political truth is that almost all governments in the world operate on a system that favors and exempts the rich individuals and corporations when it comes to sharing their wealth in terms of taxes. The richer they are the less taxes they pay. If Sonny Dominguez and his team want to collect taxes then they should do so in their own neighborhood, from their associates and social circle. Stop bleeding the rest of the hard working Filipinos dry. Vehicle ownership is at the very least a day to day necessity and at the most a small measure of status or comfort. If the Duterte administration cannot muster courage to collect from the rich then they should live within their means and stop giving such big salaries to overpaid government executives. Put a stop to patronage politics where government money is spent to make TRAPOS look good!

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