Are DPWH projects taking into account sustainable development goals?
The reports “Environmentalists lose case to save 259 trees in Pampanga” (2/3/21) and “In Baguio, trees give way to road projects” (2/5/21) show the different ways the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is squandering precious taxpayer money. Just some thoughts:
• The DPWH shouldn’t really be giving us an either-or proposition. They have to live with the fact that trees are here to coexist with us in our urban milieu. In fact, European countries have been adding more trees in their urban areas, precisely because people need trees for health, emotional, environmental reasons.
• Car-based transport would never be a solution to traffic and need for roads. These road-widening projects are not long-term solutions to traffic. Mass transport — like tranvia, train, BRT, ferry — is. Is the DPWH aware of the Tutuban to Clark line? And the North and South line of the Philippine National Railways? Have these been factored in as possibly alleviating traffic once fully running? My fear is that the DPWH is just here doing “busy-busyhan”—doing projects that are not really meant to solve problems. Where is Metro Manila now after the flyover spree three decades ago?
• With The Paris Agreement (COP21) of December 2015, 196 countries pledged to cut down their carbon emissions to below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-Industrial Age levels. In fact, certain European and Scandinavian countries have promised to wean themselves from petrol use by a certain year. Are we, as a signatory, moving in the same direction of reducing petrol use? Is the DPWH even aware of this agreement?
• Are these road-widening projects even answering any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals crafted by the United Nations to achieve a sustainable future for all?
• The DPWH budget and projects should answer whether they comply with goals for sustainable development. Do they address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? The Paris Agreement? The Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022?
Somebody should also go to the ground to check if a project is appropriate and needed.
In the meantime, I hope the Senate can investigate this type of haphazard planning by the DPWH. This is the same department that has been flagged so many times by Sen. Panfilo Lacson for lump-sum budgeting. Can the DPWH be trusted with any semblance of sustainable development? As Einstein once said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
CHESTER C. CHANG
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