More trees cut down
Grace Melanie I. Lacamiento, Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - October 5, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  At least six trees along the national highway in Naga City were cut yesterday to pave way for the government’s road widening project.

At least 26 more are expected to be cut down by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the coming days.

Thirty-two trees of various species in Barangays Langtad, Inoburan, and Tinaan are covered by a tree cutting permit issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through its Community Environment Resources Office.

DENR reportedly issued the tree cutting permit provided that DPWH replaces the trees with 1,600 seedlings to be donated and delivered to the CENRO office in Argao town, also in southern Cebu, in support of the national greening program and climate change initiatives of the government.

The logs/timber that will be recovered shall be turned over to CENRO for proper jurisdiction.

Jose Cleo Cary Colis, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, said the trees covered by the cutting permit are those reported as hazardous by the public to DPWH through the 8888 hotline.

He said that the trees are not century-old and are actually cemented by DPWH.

Colis said it is possible that more trees will be cut for ongoing road widening projects as the government’s "Build, Build, Build" program gains momentum.

The ongoing tree cutting operation, which reportedly started last Thursday, was posted on Facebook yesterday by Rudy Alix, a former convenor of Movement of Livable Cebu, using the photo of Lito Lapure, 48.

Lapure whose house was located along the road in Inoburan was among the two men who each climbed a tree in August 2014 to protest the cutting of the trees. He said he wants to climb another tree to stop the ongoing operation.

Lapure said the city needs trees badly considering that the area was hit by a landslide a year ago.

He said the trees the DPWH cut did not obstruct the road and are even beneficial as they contribute to producing more oxygen.

Instead of cutting, authorities should put a signage indicating the name of tree, its age, and its use, among others, in order to change the outlook of the public, Lapure said.

"Wa man siguro kalaban-laban ang kahoy. Nganong patyon man diretso? Wa man intawn sala ang mga kahoy (The trees are helpless. Why are they being cut down? They don’t owe us anything)," he said.

Cebu City Situation

In Cebu City, Mayor Edgardo Labella said yesterday he will write DPWH-7 to express his objection to the cutting of roadside trees.

Labella said this move by DPWH is contradictory to the city government’s thrust to plant three million trees in three years.

“For the trees that were cut, we cannot do something about it. But for those that have not been cut yet, I am advising not to cut anymore,” Labella said.

Earlier, lawyer and environmental advocate Benjamin Cabrido Jr. asked the Court of Appeals to stop DENR and DPWH from cutting more trees. He asked that the court stop the ongoing cutting, removal, or pruning operations in the country.

Last Thursday, Cabrido filed a seven-page petition for the issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan with urgent prayer for issuance of a Temporary Protection Order against the secretaries of DENR and DPWH.

He said he is suing on behalf of all other persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated or threatened of violation by the “unlawful nationwide cutting” of roadside trees.

Cabrido’s petition comes several days after the DENR, through its Community Environment Resources Office (CENRO), granted permits to the DPWH to cut five trees on M. Velez Street, Barangay Capitol Site and nine other trees along F. Sotto Drive from Gorordo Avenue to Maxilom Avenue to pave way for ongoing road widening projects.

Cabrido said all roadside tree cutting operations must stop outright since these stem from an illegal and invalid administrative order, the Department Administrative Order 2018-16, issued by DENR on July 18, 2018. —  JMO (FREEMAN)

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