City Hall says no need for tree cutting permit
Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - July 14, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Despite cutting more than 300 mahogany trees in Sitio Catives, Barangay Guba, Cebu City without a permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to give way to the development of a new public cemetery to accommodate COVID-19 fatalities, the city government insisted it did not commit any violation.

City Legal Officer Rey Gealon said that mahogany trees are not among the protected species.

He cited Administrative Order No. 79 series of 1990, which lifted the restriction in the harvesting, transporting and sale of firewood, pulpwood or timber produced from Ipil-ipil, Falcate, and all other species planted in private lands except Benguet Pine and premium hardwood species.

“So kini nga restriction gi-lift na pursuant sa maong administrative order... Ang exemption Benguet Pine or premium hardwood species. Atong klarohon ang mahogany mao ning gigamit sa mga furniture, di ni siya endangered, di ni siya hardwood species…nga maoy gidili ubos sa administrative order,” said Gealon.

He said some people with vested political interest were just making an issue out of it.

“Gumikan kay dunay misakay sa mao nga issue ang uban politika, ang uban, of course, atong gi-acknowledge as their environmental concern kay wa sila kahibawo nga dili endangered specie ang gipamutol,” Gealon said.

He said it was DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu himself who gave the permission to build a new public cemetery in the area.

“Ang pakigpulong sa atong mayor ug sa uban natong mga opisyal dinhi sa dakbayan, inubanan ni Gen. Roy Cimatu kinsa mao sa’y galingkod isip secretary o kalihim sa Department of Environment and Natural Resources, mihatag sa iyang pagtugot gumikan sa kinahanglanon na kaayo nga malubong kining mao natong mga igsuong Sugbuanon nga nangamatay,” Gealon said.

The permission, however, was subject to the compliance of all the requirements. According to Gealon, the area is the only suitable place to build a public cemetery because of its distance from the urban area.

Gealon said the city is currently complying with the documentary requirements and the trees are placed in the area owned by the city government.

“In fact, ang DENR mitabang, miabag sa dakbayan sa pagmobilize sa iyang personnel aron madali ang pagtukod sa maong menteryo,” said Gealon.

The DENR through the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CCENRO) has opened a formal adjudication into the alleged illegal cutting of trees.

The city government was directed to explain the cutting of the more than 300 trees without the needed permit.

The city government could also face possible violations for initiating moves to develop a five-hectare property without a Protected Area Management Plan (PAMP) and without applying for an environmental compliance certificate (ECC), said Dr. Eddie Llamedo, DENR-7 planning and management division chief.

Llamedo said that they have found no records to show that the city had applied for a tree cutting permit or submitted a development plan before the DENR’s Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) that has jurisdiction in Barangay Guba, which is under the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL).

He also said there has been no clearance issued yet in relation to the construction of the cemetery. FPL (FREEMAN)

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