Cebu News

Garcia: Some trees need to be cut down for safety

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman
Garcia: Some trees need to be cut down for safety
Some of the trees that form the beautiful "Tunnel Trees" in Adela, Poro town on Camotes Islands are being marked as they are located in the area of the provincial road designated for widening. The Sto. Niño Parish, led by Fr. Joel Bonza, initiated an online petition to persuade the Capitol to reconsider cutting down hundreds of trees in five barangays of the town.
Aldo Banaynal

CEBU, Philippines — While a dialogue took place between Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and officers of the Sto. Ni o Parish Pastoral Council in Eastern Poblacion, Poro, regarding the latter s opposition to cut down the trees in their town for a Capitol-funded road widening project, the governor explained the need to have some trees cut for the people s safety.

In a dialogue yesterday with the group led by Fr. Joel Bonza, and Capitol officials led by Garcia, as well as Poro and Tudela officials, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the private contractor of the project, all sides expressed their stand in the road widening project connecting Poro and Tudela.

Engineer Anjo Gonzalodo, the private contractor, stressed that not all 743 marked-trees of different variety will be cut down as what Bonza s group has reportedly assumed.

Bonza has earlier appealed to save the trees along the 13.43 kilometer stretch of the project and has started an online petition for the movement.

Gov. Garcia said there should be no further delay on this project just like what the previous contractor did, thus the concern of the church leaders and some of its parishioners and other individuals have to be addressed immediately.

Delaying it further would also mean more budget needed and could pose danger to the residents, especially those in flood and accident-prone areas with Gov.Garcia saying she is after the  general welfare of the people .

Mailisan ang kahoy, dili ang kinabuhi sa tawo. Barugan ta ni, Gov.Garcia stressed.

The trees marked earlier by DENR falls within the allowed 15-meter road-right of way for Provincial roads under Executive Order 180 of 1948.

The same EO also shows that Municipal and City roads shall have a right-of-way of not less than 10 meters; provided that the principal streets of town sites located on public lands shall have a width of 60 meters and all other streets a width of not less than 15 meters.

For the current road project, from four-meters it has been extended to 10-meters to avoid road collision of vehicles anew.

Gonzalodo clarified that while those marked trees indicate that they are within the provincial road-right-of-way, not all of them will be cut down.

The Freeman visited the area to check the ongoing project and also saw some road concreting that was re-designed to let the trees stay.

However, Gonzalodo said there are some areas where trees need to go.

But the contractor said they have yet to cut down any tree.

Several pictures of trees that have allegedly been cut down due to the expansion project were shown by Fr. Bonza, but Gonzalodo said they did not cut the said trees and it only fell by the wayside after the roots gave way.

Governor Garcia was also seemingly irked hearing the parish priest say that some trees were cut or bulldozed without presenting any evidence, as well as the group s claims earlier that the trees are century-old or some are over 60 years-old.

Garcia emphasized that one of the 10 commandments of God is thou shall not lie.

Fr. Bonza stood by their ground and stressed their advocacy for the protection of the environment as inspired by Pope Francis encyclical Laudato Si or Care for Our Common Home.

Garcia said she clearly understands their point, but said laws are laws.

Nagsunod tas balaod. Di gyud na nato ipadaplin ang balaod balansihon ta ni, said Gov.Garcia.

Governor Garcia though assured that responsible development will take place, and stressed that she too cares for the environment. She said her goal is for Camotes island to remain as an eco-tourism area, but has to be a place that will be built for the future.

Garcia said no permits, whatsoever, has been issued yet because the contractor has not expressed its intention to cut down trees.

A replacement of trees is also expected to be done when a tree will be cut down.

Fr. Bonza, at the end said, as long as the contractor follows the proper processes, then there would be no problem. He said they will also pray that even as he will be reassigned to another area, what they have been fighting for will not be put to waste.

DENR representatives have also assured Fr. Bonza s group that they will be apprised should there be trees that will be identified by the contractor for cutting. — /ATO (FREEMAN)

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