Cebu News

Garcia to meet Poro parishioners

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol, Le Phyllis F. Antojado-Orillaneda - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is willing to listen and hear the side of the Sto. Niño Parish in Poro, Camotes Island regarding its concern on the effect of cutting down hundreds of decade-old trees for a Capitol-funded road widening project in the said town.

“I am willing to call them and we will listen to them,” Garcia told Cebu media in a press conference on May 17.

The Sto. Niño Parish headed by its parish priest Fr. Joel Bonza took the initiative for an online petition, hoping to convince the government to reconsider its plan to cut down around 700 trees in five barangays in Poro.

The 700 trees are situated along the 13.43-kilometer road project traversing Barangays Mercedes, Daan Paz, Esperanza, Adela and San Jose in Poro up to the boundary of the neighboring town of Tudela.

“We are appealing to reconsider the decision in giving permit to cut trees for road widening in some barangays (Mercedes, Esperaza, Adela, San Jose and Daan Paz) of Poro, Camotes Islands, Cebu,” read part of the petition.

In a press conference, the church pointed out that amidst the pressing climate emergency that the world is facing, it’s important now, more than ever, to balance “economic development and environment which is now degrading.”

Garcia said she will call a meeting between all stakeholders, including the mayor of Poro, to tackle the issue and hear both sides before coming up with a remedy.

“… then let us also take into consideration the proper government agency that is tasked really to preserve the environment including the decision, deciding on how to balance progress with the environment and that is DENR,” Garcia said.

In an interview with The Freeman, Fr. Bonza said no one from the Capitol has reached out to them yet regarding the latest development, but they’re happy to hear that Garcia is open to meeting them.

“Wala pa (ni approach)…Mas nindot kon makadialogue (with Gov.Garcia),” Fr.Bonza told The Freeman.

Fr. Bonza said they have already sent the salient points discussed during their public hearing late last month to the Capitol through email.

This early, Fr. Bonza thanked everyone who supported their plea and the media who sent their message across to Garcia.

“Salamat kayo sa inyo…dakong tabang,” Fr. Bonza said.

The parish officials said that the people from the barangays affected by the project were not consulted about the project. Also, no one from most of the stakeholders were able to attend the public hearing set earlier prior to their own public hearing.

Bonza, who is advocating for the protection of environment as inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ or “Care for Our Common Home”, said the people must be involved in the process in whatever projects to be implemented.

The parish officials said they are grateful to Garcia for the road widening project in the Municipality of Poro but environmental protection should also be considered. (CEBU NEWS)

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