Mayor slashes councilor’s job-order staff after tree-cutting allegation

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Thursday, March 27, 2014


THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 ordered eight persons to explain their involvement in the cutting of mahogany trees within the Osmeña Reforestation Project in the upland barangay of Manipis, Talisay City.

Talisay City Mayor Johnny de los Reyes, on the other hand, reduced to five from 20 the job-order quota of Councilor Antonio "Jojo" Bacaltos Jr.

Bacaltos earlier said the mayor’s brother was one of the eight persons allegedly involved in the cutting of eight mahogany trees in Manipis.

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The DENR 7 identified a certain Wilfredo de los Reyes as the one who led the tree-cutting.

But the mayor’s brother is named Joel, who is the head of the Talisay City motorpool unit.

Mayor de los Reyes said his brother has denied the charge.

‘Cutters’

Aside from Wilfredo, the DENR 7 named barangay councilors Eduardo Abalo and Antonio Javier; Manipis elementary school head Roger Bajo, truck drivers Virgilio Bastida, Araulfo Enajada, Rolda Basamayor and chainsaw operator Marciano Silva.

Bacaltos, in a separate interview, said that he was merely echoing a complaint made by Leo Togonon of the Agri-based Rural Technology on Hilly Upland Resources Farmers’ Organization, based in Manipis.

The councilor linked the mayor’s brother to the tree-cutting in a privilege speech during the Talisay City Council session last Tuesday.

Job-order

DENR 7 spokesperson Eddie Llamedo said they are still checking if Wilfredo and Joel de
los Reyes are the same persons.

Bacaltos is the third city councilor whose job-order quota has been reduced by the mayor.

Earlier, Councilors Eduardo Gullas III and Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) President Raul Cabanero were prevented from hiring more contractual employees.

Bacaltos told reporters that his statement last Tuesday was not political.

Llamedo said cutting of trees violates Section 77 of the Forestry Code of the Philippines and Executive Order 23, which imposes a nationwide moratorium on logging.

The reforestation project ensures that the Mananga watershed remains protected, said Llamedo.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 28, 2014.

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