Cebu News

DENR to file raps vs culprits

Jessa J. Agua, Kristine B. Quintas - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Those behind the Serging Osmeña Boulevard center island trees going missing last week are in for more trouble.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7 yesterday said it is preparing to bring to court those who uprooted the 88 trees, which authorities suspect may have been chopped up into firewood.

“(The DENR is) gathering evidence and executed affidavits for possible filing of a case April 7 next week,” said DENR-7 Spokesperson Eddie Llamedo.

He said they would get witnesses and a copy of the Cebu City Government Command Center (C3) closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the road repair project site to substantiate the complaint “against certain individuals.”

Llamedo, however, declined to name who the individuals would be, as DENR-7’s legal department is still working on coming up with the complaint for the filing on Monday.

DENR-7 has also tapped the City Traffic Operators Management office to determine if a traffic enforcer was stationed in the site when the trees were removed from the center island.

Following the search for the missing trees, bundles of firewood were discovered April 3 in an open space fronting gate 3 of pier 5, but DENR found out they came from chopped off branches of the trees during the trimming and pruning in preparation for the supposed earth-balling of the trees last March 28.

Told of DENR-7’s move the Cebu City Government, through the City Parks and Playground Commission, said it would backed the case that would be filed against either WT Construction Inc. or its personnel.

City Council Nida Cabrera, who first complained about the missing trees, met with DENR-7 Forest Management Services Chief Raul Pasoc and Filemon Embalzado Jr. of the Cebu City Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) on the case to be filed.

They are eyeing a violation of Section 3 of Presidential Decree (PD) 953, which provides that “Any person who cuts, destroys, damages or injures, naturally growing or planted trees of any kind, flowering or ornamental plants and shrubs, or plants of scenic, aesthetic and ecological values, along public roads, in plazas, parks other than national parks, public ground or place..shall be punished with imprisonment for not less than six months and not more than two years, or a fine of not less than five hundred pesos and not more than five thousand pesos or both at the discretion of the court.”

Cabrera said respondents of the case would be the “employees and (the) supervisor of the project”.

She was referring to the WT Construction Inc. employees who removed the trees and Engr. Adolfo Quiroga, WT consultant.

After meeting Cabrera, Pasoc and Embalzado went to the Citom office to gather documents that would support the filing of the case.

Cabrera said the Cebu City Government would be a party to the case, considering that the city owns the trees, which were planted during the administration of then mayor Alvin Garcia.

“Hesitant kaayo ang WT (construction) pagtug-an asa dapita (where the removed trees are). Dili gyod sila mosulti asa dapita (They are not even telling). So, we decided to file a case. Di man unta muabot sa ing-ani kun (This would not be the case if as early as) Monday pa lang nitug-an na sila sa tinuod kapangitaan pa unta namo og paagi. Sige raman sila og ambot (they told us the truth so we can find a way.  They just kept on saying they do not know),” Cabrera said.

“Naglagot jud ko kaayo kay way kooperasyon ang WT. Ang amo lang unta is (I become angry because WT did not cooperate. What we wanted was) to save the trees. Karon patay na to (Now, I believe the trees are all gone),” she added.

According to City Administrator Dr. Lucelle Mercado, Willy Te, WT Construction owner, confirmed that his workers removed the trees based on the list given by DENR-7.

Mercado personally called Te yesterday to verify the “mystery” of the missing trees.

“There is nothing personal on the removal of the trees, it was just part of the job,” Te allegedly said.

Mercado told reporters that before filing of the case, things must be ironed out first.

“Mahusay unta dapat before anang kaso-kaso. Hatagan sila og chance to answer kay basi naa ray miscommunication,” she said.

The City Council has invited DPWH-7, WT Construction Inc, DENR-CENRO, Parks and Playground Commission, C3 representatives, and Barangay Mabolo officials in a special session on April 14.

Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-7 yesterday morning received the cease and desist order (CDO) issued by CENRO and hand-carried by Pasoc and Embalzado.

The order asked DPWH to explain the unsupervised removal of trees that led to the “mysterious disappearance” of around 88 full-grown trees.

“Field inspection/investigation conducted by personnel of this Office together with the personnel of Cebu City Parks and Playground Commission disclosed that subject planted was removed/balled out last March 30, 2014 without the close supervision of the involved government agencies and same was not transplanted into the designated areas identified by the Cebu City Parks and Playground Commission of which is in violation of the terms and conditions set forth in the permit,” read the CDO.

An earth-balling permit was issued March 24 for the earth-balling of 145 trees of different species after an inventory conducted last March 20.

It was set that only the trees as shown in the inventory report will be allowed to ball-out; earth-balling activity will be strictly supervised by Cebu City Parks and Playground Commission and DENR; the earth-balled trees will be transplanted to areas identified such as Mahiga Creek, San Pedro Calungsod Shrine and Barangay Lorega Triangle; and for every transplanted tree that will not survive, the DPWH-7 will produce about 100 seedlings having a diameter of 1.0 centimeter and height of two meters to be planted in areas identified by DENR.

Earth-balling is a process of carefully removing or extracting a tree including the soil around it and transplanting it to ensure its continued growth.

DENR-7 Regional Executive Director Isabelo Montejo, however, stressed that the CDO signed by CENRO-Cebu City chief Anastacio Cabalejo is only applicable to the earth-balling of trees along the project route and not the road development itself.

Montejo emphasized that no further earth-balling or cutting of trees along Serging Osmena Blvdv. is allowed.

And as DENR-7 ordered the temporary suspension of the DPWH-7 earth-balling permit, a re-inventory of the remaining trees would also be done by the local environment office to determine how many were cut and how many remain.

Montejo emphasized that an earth-balling permit is totally different from a tree cutting permit, as the former does not constitute cutting of trees, which needs prior clearance from the DENR Central Office. — /RHM (FREEMAN)

vuukle comment











  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with