DAVAO CITY – An advocacy group has expressed disappointment over the low turnout from among the 55 local candidates on a survey that seeks to rate their level of concern for the environment.

“We have various environmental problems in our city that need to be resolved such as waste in watershed areas, deforestation in uplands, clogged drainages, fight for additional green spaces, and wetlands protection, Mark Penalver, Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) executive director, said Friday.

Penalver said the IDIS' Green Vote survey only gained some 20 percent feedback from the 55 candidates it invited to participate.

"We hope that the next leaders of the City will tackle these issues as soon as they take their offices on July 1, 2022,” he said,

Eleven of the 55 candidates who responded were first legislative district representative candidate Mags Maglana, vice mayoral candidate Melchor Quitain Jr., first district aspiring councilors Luna Acosta, Lydon Banzon, and Pilar Braga;  second district councilor candidates Jonard Dayap, Marissa Abella, and Bong Batenga; and 3rd district councilor hopefuls Myrna Dalodo-Ortiz, Wilberto Al-ag, and Alberto Ungab.

Penalver said the lukewarm response indicates that most of the candidates do not prioritize the environment in their plans and programs.

"We are well aware that climate change is here, and we need leaders who have concrete plans to take action on climate and support sustainability. We need leaders who listen to their constituents and become the voice of the voiceless," he said.

The Green Vote survey was launched in February to highlight the candidates' platforms on environmental management and their views and decisions on various environmental issues in the city.

IDIS said the survey tackled local environmental issues such as the cutting of old-growth trees at declared conservation zones such as in Mt. Makabol-Alikoson and Kalatong, and the increasing wastes and pollution of the sanitary landfill.

It also asked questions surrounding the proposed waste-to-energy (WTE) facility, resumption of aerial and chemical-based spraying in mono-crop plantations, and mining, quarrying, and extraction of resources.

Majority of the 11 respondents are in favor of the benefit of environmental protection following issues on watersheds, forest lands, wildlife, ancestral domains, and urban livability.

However, several other respondents expressed support for developments with high environmental impacts and pollution such as the WTE facility, which was favored by eight respondents; allowing mining operations, favored by six respondents; the continuation of coal-fired power plants, favored by two respondents.

A huge chunk of the respondents also showed high interest in solid waste management and urban sustainability or livability, such as green spaces, sustainable transportation, and flood control for the city.

However, low interest was observed for food security and coastal management which must also be taken priority, the survey showed.

Meanwhile, Penalver urged Dabawenyos to practice awareness of the responses, stands, and perspectives of the above-mentioned candidates on environmental protection.

"We also urge them to vote for the candidates who have genuine plans for every aspect of the City’s livability and sustainability," he said.

Ivan Cortez, the city planning and development office coordinator, earlier said that the city government currently has a multi-billion investment for various infrastructure projects that would help mitigate flooding problems here.

With the help of growth partners like the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Cortez said the completion of the city's mega drainage facility—one of the proposed measures to mitigate flooding problems—is set to be expedited. (PNA)