Cebu News

Without tree cutting permit: Further delays seen for 2 projects

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - At least two road projects in Cebu City will be delayed further because of the government agencies’ failure to comply with the needed cutting permits for the affected trees.

These projects are the construction of a sidewalk along the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority compound at Salinas Drive in Barangay Lahug and the removal of center islands in Pope John Paul II Avenue in Barangay Mabolo.

The sidewalk is undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways while the removal of the center islands is a project of the Parks and Playground Commission of the Cebu City government.

 Dr. Eddie Llamedo, spokesperson of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7, said they cannot allow the project to go on without complying with the requirements.

“They have been mentioning about the projects but they even can’t comply yet with the needed requirements. They have to secure first the necessary permits,” Llamedo said.

 For the issuance of special tree cutting and earth-balling permits, Cebu City still needs to secure barangay certification stating that the concerned barangay “interposes no objection”; certification or endorsement from DPWH; and the conduct of public hearing or consultation that includes environmentalist group, non-government organizations, and private sectors with minutes of hearing, attendance sheets and photos.

At least 15 trees, including 11 fire trees and four Mahogany on the center island, are affected by the project.

DPWH Cebu City Engineering District, on the other hand, still failed to meet the requirements, including in-depth review of the feasibility of the proposed sidewalk project, taking into considerations the possible options in order to minimize or avoid cutting trees.

According to Raul Pasoc, chief of the DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, said 26 trees of various species with approximate volume of 9.37 cubic meters planted along Salinas Drive would be affected by the said road project. These trees are Mahogany, Mango, Fire Tree, Manila Palm and Avocado.

DPWH district engineer Nicomedes Leonor Jr. said several trees in the area are already leaning on the old concrete fence that may endanger the lives of pedestrians.

Meanwhile, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama insisted on earth-balling the trees in the center island of Pope John Paul II Avenue to allegedly ensure the safety of the pedestrians despite the position of the Archdiocese of Cebu to keep the trees.

Rama even dared government agencies and religious sector to offer alternative or collaborative solutions especially when this concerns two of the pressing issues in the city – road traffic and public safety.

According to the mayor, requiring permits and providing arguments will only worsen the problem.

“We in the government should not be waiting. We should be helping, assisting, supporting and so on. Because right now, I am even of the view that request should not even be needed. Right away, they can say, you can go ahead because we notice that there is some problem,” said Rama.

Manolito Briones, administrative aide at the Parks and Playground Commission, said they have already conducted public consultation on September 3. The minutes of the meeting was already submitted before DENR-7.

However, the commission is still waiting for the other two documents from the barangay and DPWH.

Rama is planning to meet with Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Villarojo after the latter was quoted in media report expressing his preference to keep the trees.

“I would like to meet Msgr. Villarojo because I do not know whether they know what they are talking. The thing there in Pope John Paul II Avenue is not only for IEC… I have been telling you, that area has a problem. Do they have a solution?” said Rama.

According to Rama, if the religious community will offer to provide a parallel road in the compound or make the national road a one-way, the trees will have to stay.

“I can only be agreeing to their proposition and put that on record, if they will allow for the seminary to be cut for a parallel road, or unless they would agree and everyone will agree in the City of Cebu that the road will only be one way. Because if not, then I will continue to stand that there really is a need (to transfer the trees),” said Rama. (FREEMAN)



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