Cebu News

After being charged for cutting trees Mayor leads tree-planting activity

Jessa Agua - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Amid the hounding controversy in the town after over 300 trees were cut down allegedly for a road-opening project, the municipality of Argao yesterday had a tree-planting activity in the very mountains that caused its mayor an Ombudsman case filed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Around 2,000 attendees from public and private offices participated in the Run2Plant for Greenin Philippines” activity and ran through the controversial road network project of the municipality in Barangay Jampang, leading to the stage setup overlooking southeastern Cebu and neighboring Bohol province.

Mayor Edsel Galeos said some 10,000 combines seedlings of tugas or molave trees, agoho or common ironwood trees, guyabano, jackfruit and mango were planted.

He further clarified that their intentions of contributing to the reforestation project of the government is clean, hence, there is no need to heed the advice of DENR that they instead conduct a mangrove planting rather than upland tree-planting like in Mount  Binalabag.

“Actually, wala’y balaud nga nagdili sa pagpananom. Ug gani, kitang tanan gi-encourage. Bisan tuod ug naa ni siyay cease and desist order, ang nasulod sa CDO nagkanayon nga ang katong earthmoving ug construction nga makadaut sa atong kalikupan, maoy unod sa atong CDO. Ug kini ang atong gibuhat dili man ni destructive. Ang ato, mandato ni sa us aka mayor, usa ka chief executive sa usa ka lungsod, nga kini siya atong tabangan ug atong kutob sa mahimo atong suportaran ang programa nga reforestation,” said Galeos.

DENR-7 spokesperson Eddie Llamedo, for his part, stressed that they did not disallow the Argao local government unit from planting trees, but merely advised what’s needed in the coastal and mountainous town of Argao.

“We advised mangrove planting because it will certainly protect the coastal communities from storm surges, coastal flooding and stronger waves due to extreme weather pattern brought about by climate change. It is a suggestion and it is a judgment call on their part to follow it,” he said.

 Further, Llamedo said they do not see the point of cutting trees in the classified timberland then plant new ones.

 “We do not see the logic of removing or cutting down fully grown trees in Jampang and then initiate planting there where previous planting conducted does not indicate a significant survival rate,” Llamedo pointed out.

A cease and desist order was earlier issued by CENRO Argao chief  Flordeliza Geyrozaga following reports of the cutting of over 300 trees in Barangay Jampang to allegedly give way to the road opening project of the LGU.

Galeos appealed for a temporary restraining order before Argao Regional Trial Court, but failed to get a favorable result.

The mayor said that his intentions for filing a TRO was for the road opening project to be finished fearing the sliding of soil at the elevated road network due to unfinished canal and drainage.

A case was likewise filed earlier by DENR against Galeos and other LGU officials for the same reasons, most especially that the reported trees cut were within the jurisdiction of National Greening Program, which the environment agency is implementing.

Moreover, seen a few meters from the new road network developed by the LGU is a signage installed by DENR that read: “This notice is hereby given to the public that this area is a classified timberland per land classification map No. 1377 of the municipality of Argao and covered by a cease and desist order.  Any  activity  there  is strictly prohibited without the knowledge, permission, lease or permit with DENR-7.”

The signage, according to Galeos, was setup shortly after they sent an invitation to DENR regarding the tree-planting activity, which yielded the advice to conduct a mangrove planting.  (FREEMAN)

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