A Case Study Critical Review on the Environment Development Sector of Davao City’s Comprehensive Land Use and Development Plan 2012-2021 Using HLURB Guidelines.


A Case Study Critical Review on the Environment Development Sector of Davao City’s Comprehensive Land Use and Development Plan 2012-2021 Using HLURB Guidelines.

Background of the Study

The study is the critical case review of the City of Davao’s Comprehensive Land Use and Development Plan 2012-2021 using HLURB guidelines. The case study is a critical review of the planning process and output that the City’s Planning Development Office prepared. A critical review of the processes and documents & the people involved in making this essential document is an important scholarly activity that would provide an external observers view and possibly the provision of enhanced recommendations to the planning documents for future reference of the local government in their own review.

Figure 1City of Davao Road Map 2012-2021

The beginnings of Davao City’s boom in urban growth have always been attributed to its geographic location and land characteristics. Since late 1898, during the time of the Americans, Davao’s potential was recognized by investors and was gaining its importance for the South in terms of trading. Consequently, this made Davao a distinctive growth center (Corcino 1997). Migrants not just from neighboring rural areas but also from all over the country has chosen to invest in this city hence making it a melting pot of economy & local culture. There is a strong patriotism found in the general public of Davao City and this has contributed a lot to the city’s progress. The population growth has been averaging at 2.83% from 1995 to 2000 and 2.44% from 2000 to 2007 (Davao City CDP 2012).  At par with this growth are the increase of demands for basic necessities such as food and shelter.

In hindsight the subject of this study, Davao City Figure 1, is a highly urbanized city in the province of Davao del Sur, posted a total population of 1,363,337 persons as of 2007 population census, an increase of 219,037 persons over its total population of 1,147,116 persons in 2000. Understanding the diverse culture and people of Davao City is going back into the written history of what was once a domain of early Malay inhabitants in the region. “The beginnings of Davao as a distinct geopolitical entity started during the last fifty years of Spanish rule in the country. While Spanish sovereignty had been established along the northeastern coasts of Mindanao down to Bislig as early as 1620, it was not until the conquest of Davao Gulf area in 1848 that Spanish sway in these parts became de facto, and Davao’s history began to be recorded…One interesting feature of Davao is the composition of its inhabitants— a mix that would make a visitor or newcomer readily feel “at home”. That mixture— of indigenous “natives” and practically all the ethnic groups representing the different parts of the country from the Ilocos region, the Mountain Provinces of Luzon, the Capampangans and Tagalogs of Central Luzon, the Caviteños, Batangueños and Bicolanos have blended into a new breed of Filipinos as they came in contact with the Visayas—Ilongos, Negrenses, Cebuanos, Boholanos and Leyteños— in their search for new homes and opportunities for advancement in life. They have come to the welcoming and helpful arms of inhabitants preceding them in Davao.” (Davao: A Brief History, CLUDP Chap. 1.1)Davao City has an area of 244,000 hectares, or 8 per cent of the land area of Southern Mindanao Region or Region XI. It is divided into 3 congressional districts and furthermore divided into 11 administrative districts. Poblacion and Talomo Districts comprises District I, meanwhile District II is composed of the Agdao, Buhangin, Bunawan and Paquibato, District III includes Toril, Tugbok, Calinan, Baguio and Marilog. (CLUDP Chap. 1.3.2)

Conflicts in the City

Davao City being the largest city in the world in terms of land area. Census data shows good standing of the city when it comes to density.  With Metro Manila at 19, 0000/km2 and Metro Cebu at 2,200/km2, Davao City out performs at 552/km2. One has to see the urban geographic characteristics of Metro Davao in order to further understand that this statistic needs reconsideration, especially when it comes to planning. In the Zoning Map of Davao City territory shown below (Figure 1) exhibits the highly urbanized area as oppose to the total land area of the city. This zoning map highlights the density of population in the CBD area and inner city portion (towards the gulf). Davao City urban area is approximately at 3,600/km.2, more concise from the initial density population produced (552/km2). This then proves that land is becoming scarce especially with urban growth the city is anticipating. One of the Comprehensive Development Plan’s thrust is for a more stable Food Security and Climate Change resilience. One important strategy was to maintain agricultural & ancestral land and avoid further conversion.

The growing urbanization in Davao City is both an opportunity and a threat to its sustainable development. A growing urban population is a potential source of human productivity in industrial and commercial sectors due to the rural – urban migration of people. However, on the other side of the economic gains of urban growth; is the challenge of providing affordable housing for these migrants. Without proper planning for human settlements, people decide for themselves outside of any government regulator or authority in building their own homes; anywhere-anyhow. These makeshift communities often politically correct termed as informal settlements are located in danger zones and in violation of the 3m buffer zone along urban river systems as legal easements.   In an article by Roger Balanza of balita.ph, “In highly urbanized LGUs like Davao City, the number of informal settlers grows annually due to migration by people seeking better opportunities…while anti-squatting laws are in place to prevent illegal occupation of private and government lands by informal settlers, the spirit of humanity, sometimes, bind LGU hands from enforcing an iron-fisted policy.”

The role of conflict resolution for new housing settlements is essential in the sustainable development planning of highly urbanized cities. But before we dwell on this issue, it is paramount we are grounded on the proper framework of where informal settlement fits in the land conflict cycle paradigm (UN-HABITAT). Essentially, conflict is “a dispute or incompatibility caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests”. Looking through the problem of informal settlements we find that the Davao City LGU has waded through the different stages of conflict.  First the Local Government Unit of Davao City affirmed the grievances of many residents that don’t own permanent residential houses and lots. And this, according to the existing conflict between the public, private and civil society sectors revolve around one of these social development issues. Providing decent housing opportunities for the thousands of rural migrant households is at the core of the dialogue between these sectors involved in this conflict since according to the article written by Arianne Casas of Sun Star “4.1 percent (13,715) occupy lots which are rent-free, but without consent of the owner.” Second, when these informal settlements organize into housing associations, the households of these communities already had formalized their Insecurities regarding the need for proper housing opportunities. Third, conflict happens when forced evictions of these people in private and public lands as documented during the previous Mayor Sara Duterte’s involvement in assaulting a Court Sheriff implementing the scheduled demolition of a shanty town in the Poblacion (Down Town) area of the city. Fortunately, the next part of the cycle is negotiation and peace-making which is part of the institutional mechanism that resolves the conflict trough the planning process. “There are several dozens more homeowners association existing as informal settlers as negotiations are underway for the city government to provide funding for land purchases.” Jody Quiros reported in an article in 2012. Lastly, post-conflict in this regard is the final resettlement or redevelopment of informal settlements.

Creating the institutional solution to the problem of informal settlements is found in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) of Davao City. The planning process that formulated the policy framework in addressing the issue of land conflict is reflected in the planning documents approved by the people’s elected representatives in the Sanggunian. “Davao City’s response to this is the Urban Land Reform Program (ULRP) which has been purposely implemented to undertake a comprehensive and continuing urban development and housing program in order to make available at an affordable cost, decent housing and basic services to the underprivileged and homeless citizens of the City. It has adopted socialized housing as a continuing program since 1986.” The 3 schemes incorporated in the CDP would address these issues namely, Land Acquisition for relocation sites of informal settlers, Loan grants to qualified Community Associations, and Community Mortgage Programs.

Scheme 1 refers to the purchase or parcels of land intended for the socialized housing and lot allocation for the informal settlers and/or underprivileged and homeless persons in the city. To date, the city government has acquired a total of nine (9) relocation sites covering seven hundred twelve thousand nine hundred eighty-one (712,981) square meters. These are located in Davao City’s three political districts, generating a total of five thousand two hundred fifty six (5,256) residential lots of which four thousand eight hundred ninety six (4,896) lots were already awarded and occupied by qualified beneficiaries. (p. 143, Chap. 3.2 CLUDP 2012-2021)

Scheme 2 refers to the granting of financial assistance in terms of loan to qualified Community Associations for the purpose of acquiring relocation sites for its members. It has been implemented since 1994. Recently, from 2001 to 2010, the program had assisted eighteen (18) community associations from Districts 1, 2 and 3. District 1 with only one community association had acquired a 10,000 square meters site amounting to Php 1,350,000 and 95 residential lots were generated. District 2 got a loan amount of Php 49,854,727 for the 222,758 total square meters of relocation sites availed by 14 community associations with 2002 residential lots generated. The third district was able to acquire a total land area of 72,426 square meters for the Php 12,213,540 loan amount. It generated a total of 445 residential lots availed by three community associations. (p. 144, Chap. 3.2 CLUDP 2012-2021)

Scheme 3 also known as the Community Mortgage Program refers to a mortgage financing program which assists legally organized associations of underprivileged and homeless citizens to purchase and develop a tract of land under the concept of community ownership.(p. 144, Chap. 3.2 CLUDP 2012-2021)

Despite the 3 schemes of the local government of Davao City in addressing the needs of the homeless and underprivileged there remains a housing backlog due to the annual growth of the urban population. 8 challenges were identified by the city regarding human settlements which are the following: acute housing shortage, inadequate housing program to address the poorest of the poor, affordability of the underprivileged homeless population of the City, spiraling cost of raw land and construction materials, unoccupied lots at ULRP sites and relocation sites, low efficiency collection of loans granted, rampant squatting, and lack of proper data banking, multiple registration of beneficiaries of housing program.

In conclusion, looking at the updated zoning ordinance of Davao City 2012-2021 in this review highlights a notable improvement of identified Socialized Housing sites throughout the city. It is in this regard that the planning process following a framework of conflict resolution has allowed the homeless and underprivileged a spatial future for their permanent resettlement. However, additional improvements to the land use planning are still possible which the study aims to do.

Land use planning refers to the rational and judicious approach of allocating available land resources to different land using activities, (e.g. agricultural, residential, industrial) and for different functions consistent with the overall development vision/goal of a particular locality. It entails the detailed process of determining the location and area of land required for the implementation of social and economic development, policies, plans, programs and projects. It is based on consideration of physical planning standards, development vision, goals and objective, analysis of actual and potential physical conditions of land and development constraints and opportunities (CLUP Guidebook, Vol. 1)

There is a distinct spatial shift which is commonly a characteristic of urbanization.  As countryside urbanized, land use conversion from agricultural to non-agricultural uses become uncontrollable. This change was more apparent in the Philippines during eighties, when the government developed industrial zones in unproductive agricultural areas as both an employment generation strategy and an urban development policy. With this aggressive industrialization program, the government attempted to make domestic industries more globally competitive.

Concurrent with the changes was also the movement of people from rural to urban for employment purposes. Because the government jump-started the decentralization by building industrial centers in different regions of the country, the working age people from rural areas flocked to urban centers in the region. The agricultural sector suffered so much, since not just the agricultural land converted to industrial and commercial zones but also those poor who are also landless forced to abandon their rural areas.

The effect of urbanization has been lopsided. Urbanization has seen poorest agricultural regions falling behind cities in socio-economic development. Only the urban areas received serious attention in terms of infrastructure development.

The absence of employment and source of income in rural villages forced their families to send their young adults to the towns and cities for work. Only those children in school age and old population are left in the villages. There is marked decline in the number of men and women of both working age and reproductive age in the coastal sites were the study was conducted.

The sudden move of the government to shift to industrialization without consultation horizontally and vertically resorted to a more serious condition. There was participation of different government agencies after the implementation of zoning. There were lack of public consultation and seemingly lack of creation of planning committee from indifferent sectors and government agencies which resorted to massive out-migration of young adult from rural to urban areas. Opportunities for livelihood were not successful as it was not tested nor practiced in the area.

HLURB Guidelines

The review will look into the structure and contents of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan as presented by the City of Davao and the processes prescribed by the guidelines namely; the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, Zoning Ordinance, Sectoral Studies, and the 12 step process with Emphasis on the Environment Development Sector.


The researchers selected Davao City as the subject of the case study because of its significant role as one of the emerging centers of growth in Southern Mindanao. The current spatial development of the biggest Highly Urbanized City in the country presents an opportunity for not only the researchers but also to future scholarly inquiries.


  1. To critically review the current Comprehensive Land Use and Development Plan of the City of Davao using HLURB Guidelines in the Environment Development Sector
    1. Vision Reality Gaps
    2. Planning Implementation Tools
  2. To determine the adherence of the planning process stipulated under the HLURB guidelines in the Environment Development Sector
  3. To recommend feasible improvements in the CLUDP of Davao City under the HLURB Guidelines
  4. To establish the level of development of Forest/Watershed co-management plans between the Local Government Unit and the Regional Office of the DENR.


The researches have the following assumptions regarding the subject: the planning team of the City of Davao followed the 2007 CLUP guidebook in preparing the City’s CLUP, the planning team had prepared the CLUP accordingly to the needs of the five development sectors: social, economic, physical, infrastructure, and institutional, the planning team coordinated with the DENR in developing their Forest/Watershed management plans.

Scope, Delimitation, Limitations of the Study

The researchers are limited to reviewing only the participation and implementation of the planning process within the context of the LGU planning office. The time for the completion of this study does not allow the researchers to explore the possibility of conducting Focus Group Discussions among representatives of the sectoral committees of the Local Development Council.

Conceptual Framework

Ridge – to – Reef Integrated Watershed Ecosystems Management Framework (HLURB CLUP Guidebook Vol. 1, 2013)

4.1 Watershed as platform for land use planning

The watershed covering the ridge-to-reef features of the land shall serve as the common strategic physical planning (vertical) platform for the formulation and preparation of all land uses and physical plans. It shall be the unifying and integrating (horizontal) framework in the identification of both public and private land use management strategies and policies including disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.

The increasing threat and impact of climate change and natural disaster and calamities arising from extreme weather occurrences further highlights the need to analyze local physical planning and development initiatives using an area’s bio-physical condition as critical focal point. This is particularly significant at the provincial level where watersheds and sub-watershed are more clearly defined and interrelated. The integrated watershed or ecosystems management framework shall also be the physical reference for the formulation of specific sectoral and development plans by national and local government agencies.

In the determination of specific land uses and development controls, the analysis and assessment of the watershed or its sub-watershed area, either within the territorial jurisdiction of an LGU and/or its adjacent LGUs, shall start from the uplands to the lowland areas down to the coastal areas, including municipal waters, as defined under RA 8550 or the Revised Fisheries Code. A prioritization of critical watershed areas, including its impact and affected communities and Barangay, shall be ascertained based on the use values—economic, social, ecological, cultural, historical, institutional or infrastructural, at the community and LGU levels.
Figure 2 Horizontal Transect (institutional and administrative jurisdiction) of the Ridge – to – Reef Integrated Ecosystems Management Framework (HLURB 2013 CLUP Preparation Vol. 1)

4.3 Co-management principle

Section 3 (i) of the Local Government Code provides that “local government units shall share with the national government the responsibility in the management and maintenance of ecological balance within their territorial jurisdiction.” Local governments and the national government are therefore mandated by RA 7160 to act as co-managers of the national territory and patrimony.

The case study scrutinized under this conceptual framework by investigating the existence and interrelationships of local plans vertically and horizontally especially on the environment development sector.

Review of Related Literature

Port City Development

The City of Davao has spatially developed from a small port community to the region’s biggest and highly urbanized city. Planning this city has many land use implications if not planned strategically and sustainably. Other port city developments studied by researchers in different parts of the world have discussed and concluded that the sustainability of old or decaying port cities-like our subject- has the potential of redeveloping itself into significance. “Nowadays, port areas-even in a state of decay- often constitutes the entry point and core area for the sustainable development of the entire urban system. Port areas offer an unprecedented heritage of a political, architectural, logistic, economic, social and artistic nature, with a great future potential…A prerequisite for a promising revitalization policy is that port cities should be able to develop highly innovative strategic approaches to urban planning, conservation and management that really integrate harbor development with urban development. Indeed, both the organizational and economic innovation of the urban space is a key to improving the resilience of a port city system, and thus its overall sustainability.” (Kourtit&Nijkamp)

In a study by Luigi Girard, Toward a Smart Sustainable Development of Port Cities/Areas: The Role of the “Historic Urban Landscape” Approach; mentioned that port cities in the likes of Davao City are symbiotic from the circular process that integrate port operations to the urban core and the peripheral agricultural areas. The review of Davao City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan would benefit from the lessons from the circularization process which can be summarized as follows:

  • Industrial symbiosis has been a driver for new sustainable eco-industrial developments and low carbon industrial systems
  • Waste management systems have played a crucial role in supporting circular business
  • Urban symbiosis and a regional clustering network may provide more business opportunities

As a historic port city, the City of Davao is ripe for adapting the circular processes in a heritage economic system. (Girard) “Port areas can be considered as the departure for a new economic city organization that reduces material inputs, waste, energy consumption and carbon emissions, connects port areas to the whole city circular design.” This is essentially what the Historic Urban Landscape approach proposes. It would be interesting to explore this concept and determine the current CLUP in its readiness for adapting this alternative sustainable approach.

Participatory Planning

It is empirical for an institution to have a successful impact to have a process that involves as much constituents and stakeholders as possible. In the context of planning, participation, although complex, is almost a requirement to produce good and comprehensive outcomes. Laurian (2009) justifies that one crucial factor in Participatory Planning that is necessary for it to succeed as envisioned is trust of the stakeholders to the state, specifically the agencies responsible in formulating community plans and policies like the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), Zoning Ordinances, etc. Trust must also be essentially present from the stakeholders to the plans and policies itself. According to Laurian, plans, planners, all participants and their intentions are playing an important role in the future of communities and societies. Their identity might as well be a basis for involvement. According to the literature of Fung (2006), public participation is a process that encourages collective decision making and is therefore followed by actions with ownership. It is acknowledged in his study that public participation is a challenging process putting together major plans. To look further into this challenge, Fung formulated his framework in a Democracy Cube (fig. 2) showing three (3) dimensions of measurable to gauge participants. His first (1st) dimension is the Participant Selection Methods. The intention and purpose of the representation is of the participant is measured in this dimension. One participant may be representing the state as an expert administrator or an elected representative. Participants with a purpose may belong under the Minipublics where intentions could vary from professional affiliation to advocacy. The second (2nd) dimension he formulated was the Communication and Decision. This gauges the capacity of the participant to communicate his ideas and knowledge to the table, preferably strongly relevant to the matters at hand. Third (3rd) dimension is the Extent of Authority and Power. Aside from the intentions and capacity to communicate, since policies and plans are the final output of the planning activity, the gravity of authority a participant has and significance of his representation is also highly considered. Davao City being a multi-sector society, it is but ideal to practice participatory planning in its CDP and CLUP Revision process. Understanding that there could be myriad of representation in this activity, application of Fung’s theory of participant selection relevance should be considered to have a more concise and substantial planning process.

Figure 3 Fung Democracy Cube

Vulnerability to Environmental Changes

Watersheds are most vulnerable to the impacts of environmental changes, “The fast deterioration of the condition of watershed has significant impacts on people living within the area, as well as the integrity of the watershed. If coping mechanisms will not be institutionalized to reduce these impacts, these problems may arise…There is an urgent need for community education and information awareness about the social, economic, and physical consequences on the impacts of environmental changes (e.g. forest degradation, pollution, and rampant cutting of small trees for charcoal making fuel wood, among others) The community development adaptation strategies should be in accordance to the needs felt by the people in reducing environmental changes.” (Jose & Cardenas, 2010)Understanding the roles of watersheds into the total integrated ecological management to land use is vital to the understanding of the development of Comprehensive Land Use Plans at the local level. If the environmental perspective is not taken into account, the sustainability of growth among growing communities will not be properly factored in thus aid in the perennial destruction of the ecological balance that human settlements depend on for their recharge or aquifer areas.

In line with the importance of having proper development controls for the sustainability of the environment, another study in 2011 reported that (Phoumphon, et.al) regulators must conduct land use planning to be implementing in the reservoir. Further a specific legal framework in forest resources use in this area should be formulated…the community-based forest management should be promoted to control the resources use and reduce the influx of migration from outsiders. Cooperation among state organizations that have stakes in the watershed should be improved. The roles and responsibilities of each organization in watershed management should be clear. The regular monitoring and evaluation must be imposed. Further the conceptual framework agrees with this observation that there should be a clear co management role among stakeholders to assure accountability from everyone. The case study will look into these relationships through the identification of any plans developed or implemented by both the local government of Davao City and the Regional DENR office.


Case Study – Primary KIA, Secondary Document Review

The research will use the Case Study method in answering the research problem and objectives. The method is appropriate for this inquiry because of the nature of the variables in determining the compliance of the Comprehensive Land Use and Development Plan of Davao City in following HLURB guidelines. The study requires an in depth qualitative analysis that can be grounded on primary sources from key-informant interviews, focus group discussions, and review of secondary sources like the current CLUP.

Furthermore, the case study approach is appropriate for this endeavor since it will allow the researchers a highly focused study in the details of planning processes undertaken or not taken by the subject of this study. By dwelling on the step by step compliance to procedure the researchers were able to assist the LGU indirectly in the strengthening of their plans. The critical review of its outputs is in line with the regular review of the CLUP every 3 years coinciding with the term of the mayor and other locally elected officials.

The primary source of data for this review was taken from Key Informant Interviews and Focus Group Discussions with the planning office or team that prepared or provided the necessary technical services in developing the CLUP of the local government unit. An interview guide and a facilitators guide questions were prepared to assist the researchers in their data gathering. The review of the planning documents vis-à-vis the HLURB guidelines will form part of the triangulation of the case study by comparing the required processes in the guidelines to the actual process and output the LGU did. The research output was presented on a per sector basis in comparison to the requirements of the guidebook and the actual document for convenience of the reader. Lastly, the data was treated under the conceptual framework of Institutional Development Planning.

Research Questions – Objectives Variables to Be Studied Data Gathering Tool/Technique Source of Data
1. To critically review the current Comprehensive Land Use and Development Plan of the City of

Davao using HLURB Guidelines in the Environment Development Sector

Vision Reality Gaps Document Review CLUDP
Planning Implementation Tools Document Review CLUDP
2. To determine the adherence of the planning process stipulated under the HLURB guidelines in

the Environment Development Sector

Planning Process (Draft CLUDP on Environment Only) KII CPDC/ Planning Team
–          Were the 12 steps followed?

–          Which step was not fully implemented or satisfactorily met

3. To recommend feasible improvements in the CLUDP of Davao City under the HLURB Guidelines CLUDP Environment Sector = data needs assessment, environment committee members Document Review CLUDP
4. To determine the integration of Forest/Watershed co-management plans between the

Local Government Unit and the Regional Office of the DENR.

Integration of Environmental Related Plans (were the following plans integrated in the revised CLUDP, why/why not?: Forest Land Use Plan FLUP, Integrated Resource Management Plan, Integrated Ecosystem Management Plan, Coastal Fisheries Resource Management Plan DENR/ Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Plan DA) KII/  Document Review Environmental Sector Committee




Variables Questions Source
Vision Reality Gaps Why is there no specific descriptor for the environment sector in the Vision Statement?

Why the mission statement on the land use sector is mentioned only ‘balanced ecology’ as the descriptor? & Why was this not elevated to the Vision of the city?

Why were there no specific indicators in line with the “balanced ecology” descriptor in the mission statement of the city? How are they to be in coherence with the strategic frameworks for the environmental sector?

*apply vision – reality gap analysis on the environment sector






Planning Implementation Tools Review Zoning Ordinance

Form (HLURB Model ZO)

Substance (Context/Depth)

Planning Process (Draft CLUDP on Environment Sector Only) Who were the members of the committee that prepared the CLUDP for the environment sector?

What data requirements were not satisfied? Why?

What areas for improvement of the CLUDP are identified? Why?

CLUDP Environment Sector = data needs assessment, environment committee members
Integration of Environmental Related Plans were the following plans integrated in the revised CLUDP, why/why not?: Forest Land Use Plan FLUP, Integrated Resource Management Plan, Integrated Ecosystem Management Plan, Coastal Fisheries Resource Management Plan DENR/ Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Plan DA)


Results of the Study

Misty Sunrise: the City of Davao’s Vision Reality Gap

Waking up in the hour before the sun rises, when the stars in the black sky illuminate the world around you, and the first ray of that yellow globe intersects the horizon is a misty morning to look forward to in the thick forests of Mt. Apo overlooking the City of Davao. This is the first impression an academic observer on what about the City’s Vision and Mission statement. The bland prose that generally proclaims the vision of a people could be improved more. The vision statement to quote, “We envision Davao City as the Premier Socio-economic and tourism center in Mindanao, East Asean Growth Area (EAGA) and the Asia-Pacific Region propelled by enlightened leaders and empowered citizenry and committed to sustainable growth and development under the guidance of Divine Providence.” It generally put forward a clear and precise picture of what the City wants but without a clear time frame. Digging deeper on the VM Statement document, there were no clear success indicators identified that could strengthen the foundation of the Comprehensive Development Plan, although there specific goals, objectives in their respective documents (which  looked into later in the article); a definite success indicator would allow the future picture of the City grounded in quantifiable reality.

The City of Davao is committed to sustainable growth and development. This said the vision statement is aligned with the nation’s sustainable development agenda. Sustainable Development as defined in the PA 21 (1996) –the ‘harmonious integration of a sound and viable economy, responsible governance, social cohesion and ecological integrity to ensure that development is a life-sustaining process’. Although not explicitly mentioned in the City’s vision statement, the City upon declaring a future of sustainability would like to achieve the following five goal elements declared in the Philippine Agenda (PA) 21: Poverty Reduction, Social Equity, Empowerment and Good Governance, Peace and Solidarity, & Ecological Integrity. However implied, the City’s vision statement would have had more teeth and clarity if it included these sustainable development goals.

Peering through the misty eyes of the City of Davao’s future, one needs to look at the vertical integration of the City’s vision to the National Framework for Physical Planning (NFPP 2001-2030) and the current administration’s midterm development plan (MTDP 2011-2016) as essential in understanding the bigger picture at the integration of national and local plans. Let us breakdown the City’s main and sectoral vision statement to see how there is or isn’t a clear integration especially on the environmental development sector.

The NFPP promotes principles consistent with the national direction of limited resources to physical planning and development. First, food security is an essential element of the NFPP wherein stated in the Economic sectoral mission statement said, Davao City aims to be the growth center in Mindanao. To attain this, it is going to engage the “the players” in the local economy to engage in propulsive industries, in industries with export potentials and in light, medium and heavy industries such as in agri-based industries[Bold font emphasis made by the author]. As agri-based industries are well suited in developing the food security of the City, it is also important to look at the most efficient cost beneficial alternative to local production for food security since the Davao of City is also at a strategic location for food imports in the South East Asian region. Second, environmental stability and ecological integrity is also part of the framework which fortunately forms part of the City’s vision when it stated that it is committed to sustainable growth and development; more so found in the social vision statement, “Make Davao City and its people, free from cold, hunger and disease, unburdened by ignorance secure in their persons and domicile, enjoying the blessing of growth and development without sacrificing the quality of the environment.”The sectoral social vision statement had imbibed the essence of the NFPP with regards to Environmental stability and ecological integrity. Third, the NFPP recognizes the rights of indigenous people which the City of Davao has a diverse population of different ethno-linguistic affiliation. Part of its social vision statement manifested “Recognize the right of the Muslim People and Tribal Filipinos to self-determination and to give due respect to their ancestral domain and their culture. In any and all circumstances, the city shall adopt a policy on addressing their welfare and well-being.” Fourth, regional urban development is one of the core principles of the NFPP that was used by the City in its vision to guide its Land Use Sector vision statement; “Our mission is to transform Davao City into a modern and a well planned investment center in Mindanao and the Asia-Pacific region, propelled by socially enlightened leaders and empowered citizenry, spiritually committed to attain sustainable growth and optimum development within the context of balance ecology.” Following this statement, it shows the direction of the City towards a balanced built up area with the conservation of the protected areas and the sustainable management of production areas.

Continuing the assessment of the City of Davao’s vision statement under the lens of the MTDP or Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016 follows an alignment of principles explicitly stated or implied. First, in pursuit of inclusive growth is the priority agenda of the PDP which includes poverty reduction, social mobility, and a stable political economy; factors on which were found in the economic sectoral mission statement “Davao City to become a major growth pole in the international market by engaging its empowered and participate citizenry in resource based and market-driven economic activities within the context of balanced ecology, sustainable growth and equity-led development.” The same can be said with the second agenda which is Macroeconomic Policy where in fiscal and institutional incentives are used to encourage investment in a location. Third, the competitive industry and service sectors have a sure footing in Davao City since these service sector industries like BPOs are located in the downtown area of Davao City. Fourth, which is in particular interest to the environmental development sector are the conservation, protection & rehabilitation of the Environment and Natural Resources. The line in the vision statement that said committed to sustainable growth and development is paramount. And this is where vision takes off to the specific goals and objectives under Air Quality, Watershed, Waste Management, Water Quality, and Climate Change/Disaster Risk. Although the goals for each subsector of the environment development sector, there were no clear targets for the strategic objectives in the plan, it is in this regard that the City should develop in its review clear measurable indicators to facilitate the movement of the plan from a document to action points.

However, despite the good intentions encapsulated by the vision and mission statement of the City, especially for its environmental sector, there remains a discrepancy on the real situation. Namely the situation on air quality wherein it is reported the following: 1) total suspended particle levels have remained virtually at the same level in 3 years and can only go up 2) the ideal target for PM10 emissions is set by WHO at 20 (Davao is at 61), the level that is considered acceptable for healthy air 3) 65% of pollutants come from mobile sources, which is expected to rise reaching 12,800 tons in 2015 and 16,020 in 2021 4) Not all areas are covered and monitored for air pollutants 5) Use of fossil fuel will probably increase if alternative sources are not developed. Also, the same concerns were noted in the same report for the watershed subsector which reported: 1) There are still 63,580 Has of brush lands within Timberland areas that can still be developed 2) There are CADTs that are within Timberland areas which pose management concerns. 3) There is unchecked encroachment in conservation areas 4) there are improper agricultural practices. Furthermore, solid waste as part of ecological balance and sustainable development has noted the situation that 1) if the current rate of disposal is maintained, the Sanitary Landfill filled to capacity by 2018 2) there are not enough composting facilities 3) there are not enough materials recovery facilities 4) the city is collecting 46% of waste generated instead of only 20%. Water quality is another problem area wherein the reality for rivers & creeks was noted the following 1) from 1994-2008, there was a 206% increase in residential areas, 311% in commercial areas and 124% in industrial areas 2) there is currently no wastewater treatment facility in Davao City 3) Less than 1% of the population area served by existing sewerage systems. In addition, coastal waters also do not fare much better despite the vision of the City to preserve the water quality in its jurisdiction. 1) indiscriminate garbage throwing in coastal Barangays still continue 2) there is no zoning of our coastal waters 3) public bathing beaches are unsafe. Groundwater situation also has its share of reported problems, namely; 1) indiscriminate garbage throwing in coastal barangays still continue 2) there is no zoning of coastal waters 3) public bathing beaches are unsafe. Unfortunately, there were no clear descriptors and measurable indicators of Davao City’s vision. The limitation of this circumstance hampered the vision – reality gap analysis of this section.

The vision mission statement and the underlying plans of the environmental development sector follows the principles espoused on the NFPP and MTDP. Even with this alignment there are still factors that seem to hinder the successful realization of such classic visions into reality. However not explored deeper in this paper, it is imperative to understand that vision statements are the blank canvass on which the City’s spatial and comprehensive future of their land and their people are written, which is why the importance of conducting vision reality gaps at timely intervals to ensure course corrections of plans when necessary.

Danger Zoning Matters: City of Davao’s Hazard Sensitive Zoning Ordinance

Upon first look at the updated zoning ordinance of Davao City for 2012-2021 one can notice the adherence to form, following the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board’s Model Zoning Ordinance. A textbook representation of how guidelines are followed in lieu of real world application. It follows form from the Title Page down to the Administration and Enforcement article. Few can be said to what is not to be found in the updated ordinance. However, one can comment on the additional features of the zoning ordinance which are related into the current advocacies of government in disaster risk reduction management and climate change mitigation and adaptation, particularly in the identification of areas with high risk for natural hazards.

In Article IV – Zone Classification, Section 1.1 Land Slide Susceptible Zones. Areas located within the land slide prone based on the Terrain Analysis of Davao City; the City identified areas which are susceptible to landslide, hence provided additional building restrictions or land use regulations in these areas. Further, Section 1.2 Flood Susceptible Zones. Areas located within the flood prone based on the Terrain Analysis of Davao City also included additional restrictions for building settlements or structures in the area. The Zone Regulations for these danger areas were stipulated under Sections 1.2 and 1.3 of Article V. Section 1.2 Additional Provision on Areas with High Flood Susceptibility based on the Terrain Analysis of Davao City Watersheds Conducted by DENR-MINES and Geosciences Bureau R-XI and Section 1.3 Additional Provisions on Areas with Landslide Susceptibility Based on the Terrain Analysis of Davao City Watersheds Conducted by DENR-MINES and Geosciences Bureau R-XI, require new developments to secure clearances from the regional MGB and provide for applicable or approved mitigating measures for slope protection before Locational Clearances can be granted by the Local Government Unit. The restrictions are reasonable and within the jurisdiction of the executive agencies mandated to regulate land use on natural hazard identified areas.

The initiative of the Davao City government to restrict land use on danger zones is laudable, however; decades of inadequate regulation of land use in built up areas have exposed citizens to the natural hazards determined by the mines and geosciences bureau of DENR. At the end of the Marcos dictatorship in Post-EDSA 1 1986, the Duterte’s have ruled the southern city for more than two decades which saw the sleepy port town grow into a regional center for industry and commerce, but this growth is more private sector led than public sector planned. The consequences of weak planning regulation brought about by a political dynasty that espouses popular development planning, spending, and spatial strategy; reduced the capacity of the local government to enforce well thought out urban plans. Many of the residential zones are within the 2012 identified danger zones for flood and landslide susceptibility. It follows then the burden of residents within these areas, formal or informal, to comply with the additional restrictions/use regulations mentioned above. Now, many would appeal for a certificate of non-conformance due to financial restrictions of those who could not comply to invest in engineering solutions mitigating impacts of flood or landslides. But these remedies would become moot, if in the end when these hazards turn to disasters and loss of lives and properties are inevitable.

Land use restrictions such as those in areas of flood and land slide susceptibility would not be enforced without sufficient administrative and institutional support. Based on the documents provided by the City of Davao, a total of 3,246 personnel are working for the City Government. 27 are elected officials, while 2,892 or 89.09% with permanent appointment, 4 or .14 percent temporary and 323 personnel or 9.95% are co-terminus. The City Planning and Development Office have 69 positions in charge to monitor the implementation of the city’s land use pattern. With a small office to regulate 244,000 hectares of land, the office might not be able to fulfill its mandate efficiently and effectively.

In lieu of the administrative/institutional challenges of implementing the zoning ordinance, the City has done what it can with what it has. This observation is based on studying the general zoning map, and the proposed urban zoning map of the city. Several factors that facilitate zoning is the adaptation of a spatial strategy that the city called Barangay Urban Centers, and District Urban Centers, as first and second level of service providers respectively. With a vast territorial boundary, with a rural north, and urban south; the spatial strategy to develop basic services delivery platforms can be said to augment the lack of personnel from the City Government. However, even with a popular political dynasty at the helm of Davao City; it is this same circumstance that impedes land use planning implementation. By not wanting to get into the wrong side of the family, it is possible that civil servants in the planning office would bend to the call and haw of the local chief executive, and in the process disregarding the rule of law and exposing people to unnecessary risks.

The recourses one can recommend to strengthen zoning implementation is to improve the capacity of the planning office, increase its staff complement with qualified personnel, and to improve local governance by leveling the playing field to other competent politically astute individuals. By improving the capacity and increasing the staff complement of the planning office, individuals in the office can increase their efficiency with new knowledge and skills that would benefit the City. Also by improving local governance, transparency and accountability would be take the forefront of basic service delivery in the tune of proper land use zoning administration; where to build not and where to build  with gold.


  • The growing urbanization in Davao City is both an opportunity and a threat to its sustainable development
  • The current spatial development of the biggest Highly Urbanized City in the country presents an opportunity for not only the researchers but also to future planners.
  • There were no clear targets for the strategic objectives of the plan
  • There were no measurable indicators found in the Vision statement.
  • There was no Forest Land Use Plan prepared by the LGU.


  • There is a strong priority given to Environments but just not reflected in the CLUP.
  • The planning capacity of Davao City in developing its environmental plans is weak in terms of technical competence and manpower.
  • Highly recommended that the CPDC and CENRO of Davao City seek technical assistance from the Regional DENR in preparing their environmental sector plans.


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